8th Feb 2013
Nicole Wray and Terri Walker – Photo: Courtesy of Stafford Tomlinson
Having already received major success and acclaim both critically and publicly via their previous artist, Mr Lee Fields, Brooklyn-based Truth & Soul records are back. This time they are unleashing both musical barrels upon us in the guise of the stunning vocal prowess and beauty of Nicole Wray and Terri Walker a.k.a. “Lady.” And if you think those names have a familiar ring to them then you’ll be right. Both these young ladies have previous! Terri has already released four hit albums to date in the UK, with her debut release being nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. Atlanta born Nicole tasted success with her debut single “Make It Hot” being certified gold.
This Anglo-American friendship was forged back in New York City in 2009, when both parties realised the common denominator between them was their love of 60s pop; hip-hop and modern-day R&B. This being the case the natural progression was to form a duo and record an album that incorporated all three music genres. The result is their self titled debut album “Lady.” On February 8, 2013 Lady performed their debut live set at London’s prestigious Jazz Cafe venue.
Although they were last on during an evening where four or five bands were performing, they were well worth the wait. Entering stage right Nicole Wray and Terri Walker twinkle footed along to their respective microphones. Nicole enthused, “How y’all doing?” And Terri uttered “What’s up London?! After introducing themselves, Lady exploded straight into the infectious, chugging beats of “Hold On.” With its catchy and in-your-face chorus “Hold On” is definitely a future single in the waiting.
On the topic of singles, next up was the track that brought the name of “Lady” to many people’s consciousnesses toward the latter end of 2012. Their debut outing “Money” is definitely one for the independent ladies out there.
Staying true to the Truth & Soul ethos of quality lyrics backed by quality musicianship; married with first-class vocal talent and passion “Money” embodies all the sassiness and attitude of the two ladies who performed it. Granted, it was a pity a large number of the audience didn’t know what they were witnessing given the incessant chatter during their set, but for the clued up and musically astute it was fabulous to see this song performed live, having heard it for so many weeks on various discerning radio shows such as Mark Merry’s Soul Sermon Mix-up on Star point radio and Mick O’Donnell’s Soul Discovery Show on Solar Radio, who have been championing this group from the outset.
Terri Walker in the zone @ the Jazz Cafe Photo: Courtesy of Stafford Tomlinson
Next up was a track dedicated to all the wonderful mothers of the world, “Sweet Lady.” With its captivating lilt and positive, uplifting and edifying lyrics “Sweet Lady” is definitely an oh so sweet tune. The two ladies delivered it with panache and passion. The album showcase continued with a sterling rendition of “Habit” which has that deep down’n’dirty Southern soul mid tempo groove which causes one to instinctively head nod. Not to mention the enticing sing-a-long chorus.
Nicole Wray and Terri Walker – Photo: Courtesy of Stafford Tomlinson.
With the audience still buzzing from the previous tune, four clicks of the drummer’s sticks signalled the intro to “Get Ready,” the second official single release by “Lady.” Have you ever had that feeling when you think you’ve heard a tune before but it’s a brand-new release? The tune of has such a fresh and crisp jaunty feel to it, yet because of the old school production and instrumentation it could have easily been recorded in1960s a Stax recording studio. Definitely a tune with that spring summer vibe to it, which is both club and radio friendly.
Terri Walker – Photo: Courtesy of Stafford Tomlinson
The ethereal vibes of Toby Pazner’s keyboard gave a homely and church like feel to the penultimate tune “Tell the Truth.” All that was missing was a couple of tambourines for the vocalists to tap against their thighs.
By this time also Terri and Nicole were revelling in the experience of performing live before a Jazz Cafe audience. They looked comfortable and at ease within their musical environment. Indeed this very professional, musically stimulating and commendable performance was brought to a close by the funky, up-tempo beats of “Good Lovin.” And we were treated to an impromptu funky dance and interaction between the two ladies to boot.
Having witnessed them live, “Lady” are indeed the real deal and with the heavyweight writing team and music power house of Truth & Soul Records fully behind them, i predict big things for these two young ladies. And that can only be good for ALL lovers of quality Soul music the world over. I’m already looking forward to their return visit.
Michael J Edwards
“Lady” with Michael “The Dood” Edwards Photo: Courtesy of Stafford Tomlinson
Lady (CD) (Truth & Soul Records 2013