Amel Larrieux Infinite Possibilities

When Larrieux first debuted along with ex-Mantronix member Bryce Wilson as Groove Theory a few years ago, they delivered soul music with catchy sensibilities and a message that caught the attention of many, including the members of Sade’s band, who recruited Larrieux to participate on their Sweetback side project. With Groove Theory now a distant memory, Amel Larrieux’s angelic voice makes its anticipated return, and thankfully, Larrieux’s gift for astute lyricism with dashes of social commentary remains. The assumed superiority of Western conventions of beauty is critiqued on “I N I,” while “Get Up” tackles the aspiration to escape the mundane. However, the narratives of her past songwriting are in shorter supply; the journey here is more personal, both lyrically and artistically. While there has always been a deep introspective aspect to Larrieux, musically the album explores areas she had only previously hinted at. With the chunky beats of Wilson absent, Larrieux delves into gospel arrangements on “Even If” and delivers the jazz reading she’s always threatened to do on the jilted mood of “Down.” Larrieux revels in the freedom of the wider sonic palette and experiments with scatting and layering her voice throughout. While a contrast to the immediacy of her past work with Groove Theory, Infinite Possibilities’ ten well-crafted tracks amount to an accomplished individual strike. (Sony)