Leon Lacey's LIV

The Inner Voice of Leon Lacey...

Download your LIV souvenir audio postcard here.

With an loyal grassroots following that instantly grows after each concert, and until recently, backed by a distribution house that doubles as a vehicle, Leon Lacey's LIV (Leon's Inner Voice) is showing all the signs of God's favor.

LIV CDConsider this your advance warning, for you will surely be hearing more about LIV. Headed up by 22-year-old Richett Leon Lacey, the award-winning group of 14 singers and 6 instrumentalists takes their unusual name from the fact that they serve as the expression of Lacey's 'inner voice'. It's a testimony to tightness of the group dynamics, and to their focus of vision. Helping make this a reality are Paul John and Jahlil Mack who serve as musical co-directors.

Indeed, this 'voice' has much to say, for Lacey is prolific. He's written over 250 songs in multiple Gospel genres, including "Ain't Nobody Like Jesus" which appears on Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir's Family Affair project (see album review).

On LIV's independently-produced effort, Lacey brings out a strong eighteen cuts. The quality and quantity of sound burned into the disk is enough to give plenty indication that LIV has ingenuity, creativity and their own unique approach to songwriting, composition and delivery.

LIVThere's no doubt about the ministry that this youthful crew puts forward —you pick up on that from track one. It's a combination of honest and daring, humble and King's kid confidence. It's infused, and is the essence of LIV's lyrical world and musical expression.

Throughout the project, the band strikes a hot iron and smokes it thick, switching it up so quickly —sometimes in mid-song— that you start asking, "Is this a mix tape??" No, it's not, but they're just that good (check "The Years Are Rolling"). Funky slickness one minute, classically-influenced keyboard strokes the next.

Although LIV is geographically rooted on the East coast, their sound is not typical of the region. Instead, it's a refreshing fusion of multiple styles, running from smooth, nearly acappella ballad on one cut ("Wait On The Lord") to new soul melody ("Take Back What The Devil Stole") to thickly-grooved jazz ("Jesus Is Here") to nearly everything else in between.

Leon LaceyVocally, Lacey knows well enough to refrain from dominating on each cut. He lets his various gifted vocalist display their calling liberally from track to track. The result is that there's nary a spot where you reach to press the skip button. Each song holds its own, unveiling new facets to the group's diverse expression.

Like most diamonds in the rough, there's some significant polishing needed before the shine becomes intense. In this case, it's the production that needs an overhaul. But with the degree of raw quality that LIV offers, there's probably already a killer lineup of production talents waiting to sink their teeth into this meal.

Producer: Leon Lacey
album release date: mid-2000

reviewed by Stan North

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