Laurneá Laurneá II

After the disappointing response to her Betta Listen debut a few years back, soul singer Laurneá has formed her own label, EraSound1, which will feature artists from Atlanta's burgeoning jazz funk scene, as well as Loose Ends sound maven and UK soul pioneer Carl McIntosh. Another product of her DIY ethic is her sophomore effort Laurneá II. Recorded in her home studio, stylish and sensual tracks abound, due in part to wise collaborative choices. Speech from the newly reformed Arrested Development, Dwayne Wiggins and Jon B. all complement Laurneá's delicate voice with their songwriting and production contributions. But the best results come from the three tracks produced by Ali Shaheed Mohammed (A Tribe Called Quest). While it lays on the earnest idealism pretty thick, "Keep Your Head Up," is easily the album's strongest track. Here Laurneá deftly eases her voice out of its breathy comfort zone and the sincerity is tangible, making you wish this range was exploited further on this otherwise assured and satisfying effort. (EraSound1)