New Music From Amel Larrieux

R&B singer Amel Larrieux has been hitting the charts for a decade but still isn’t a household name like Madonna or Mary J. Blige. But that’s fine by her.

The 33-year-old singer, who was reared “a bohemian” in Manhattan’s West Village, like having a noncommercial style all her own. And her albums, including those recorded with Groove Theory (“Tell Me”) and Sade’s band, Sweetback, have earned her enough money that she has not had to take a 9-to-5 job, Larrieux says.

“I never set out for stardom — I wanted to write songs and lyrics,” she says by telephone from Los Angeles where her husband, manager and collaborator Laru Larrieux runs the independent Blisslife label. She’ll be back in New York Saturday for a gig at B.B. King’s Blues Club.

Larrieux’s eclectic style continues with her third solo album, “Morning.” The 10 tracks are an exotic, hypnotic blend of hip-hop, soul, jazz, spare beats (think The Neptunes) and folksy guitar. Larrieux’s lean, ethereal voice soars in plaintive love songs such as “Unanswered Question.”

She also continues to inspire listeners with songs such as “Gills and Tails,” about rising above the cutthroat drama of daily life, and “Earning My Affection,” about a woman who just wants a little respect and appreciation.

Larrieux says much of the inspiration for songs such as “Weary” came from listening to others talk about their experiences. “If it reminds you of your doctrine, great,” she says. “It stems from a love of humanity.”

After three weeks, “Morning” was No. 43 on Billboard’s Top 50 R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. It peaked at No. 8, Billboard said.

This is an excellent album for sitting back, chilling with a glass of wine, or meditating. The only complaint is that the songs, although they vary in style and show an aptitude for taking risks, have a similar, laid back tempo. Supple-voiced Larrieux, who wrote all the songs with her husband/manager, should have tried to put just one dance track in the vein of Beyonce on the album.

But making music for Larrieux is a personal, family affair. Her two daughters Sky, 11, and Sanji-Rei, 7, provided vocals on the playful “Magic.”

“The kids grew up around what we do,” Larrieux says. “As long as they want to be involved, I want them to be down with it.”

The Journal News
[tags]Amel Larrieux[/tags]