Lisa Shaw

You might recognize Lisa Shaw's voice as the Lexus of deep-house divas, a staple collaborator for the artists of Naked Music, a label that specializes in tripped-out soul music, downtempo grooves with a Millie Jackson flavor. Shaw is like the Stephanie Mills for a generation of Portishead fans, where the beats sound best pillowed in blissed-out backdrops with '70s soul arrangements fogged across tight techno skeletons. Cherry, her long-awaited solo debut, delivers much more straightforwardly than you might expect, with the nu-soul instrumental freakouts pared back to a minimum to allow room for her pipes to flex. These are easy-to-savor pop cuts of dance tracks -- easy to savor for not traipsing off into eight minutes of beat hypnosis. Pop R&B could take lessons from Shaw's plush arrangements that, born of club culture, don't see a contradiction between the ballad and the dance floor. Cherry slinks out your speakers and sets a new standard for space-age soul.

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