Nysa Shenay steps in at a time when that retro sound is in the spotlight.Producer: Laythan Armor
album release date: January 23, 2001
The newest old soul sound has been brought to the forefront of the mainstream by D’Angelo, Jill Scott and newcomer Musiq, and heralded in the Gospel camp by Tonéx, Marcus Cole and Montrel Darrett. Drawing from her years of experience, Nysa picks up that torch and runs with it, scorching ears and warming hearts in the process.
For their first Gospel project, Priority Records brings in producer Laythan Armor to lay down most of the tracks for Shenay. His experience and credentials (Trin-i-tee 5:7, O’landa Draper, LA Mass, Frankie Knuckles) allow him to shape the beats to bend so they best fit the LA native’s voice. The result is fully contemporary soundscape that leaves no questions as to its urban legitimacy.
Track highlights include “Mystery”, a sweet groove with considerable drawing power. Acoustic guitar and Spanish rhythms pulsate as Shenay extols the wonders of our Creator and the things He has done. Vocals paint sweetly against the backdrop of guitar by Rodney Millon.
Shenay flexes her range on “I’m Your Father”. Flowing in a mellow lower register most of the time, she floats to a sweet falsetto midstream. The lyrics of “Toy” are creatively fresh, telling the devil that “I’m not a toy, don’t you play with me, No you can not steal my joy, Cause I got victory”. All this set to a mid tempo flow with Fender Rhodes sustaining the melody.
Shenay covers Stevie Wonder classic “Have a Talk with God”, with Armor editing it slightly for 2001, but staying true to the art of the original. Nice bass work from Andrew Gouche enhance. Darius McCrary on vocals and Don Juan on rap join in collab on “Love The Things You Do”.
Ballads feature the slow jazz swing of “Gonna Bless Your Name” with sax solo by Andre Roberson, and “Serve You Well” a broadway musical-styled number where Shenay seems right at home. String synths from Armor punctuate expertly.
The liner notes are peppered with Shenay-isms zingers that capture the essence and the edge of this singer: “One word to all haters…. Don’t” and “The devil wants you stressed, depressed, and full of mess. Are you?”
With holy ‘attitude’ in abundance, both in music and in lyrics, Nysa Shenay is a welcome voice of the crew out early in 2001. The revival of old soul coupled with her energy is sure to make an impact, making her stand out in the crowd.
reviewed by Melanie Clark and Stan North —
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