Sounds like … jazz-influenced soul in the vein of Jill Scott, Angie Stone, India.Arie and Sunny Hawkins

At a glance … this live album is perhaps too smooth—bogged down with too many slow, mellow tracks

At the June 2005 recording of Live from the House of Blues in New Orleans, Lisa McClendon described the final song as a "special tribute to New Orleans, the place where music lives and breathes."

Similarly, the songs on McClendon's first live offering have a sense of life rooted in her everyday experiences. The confident "Made" opens with soft horns accenting relaxed-but-not-relaxing background vocalists. "Made" eases into the gently jazzy updated classic "Just Another Day." "But for Eternity," a mellow number, includes a brief instrumental portion at the end that picks up this track about gratitude for Christ's sacrifice.

"You Can" starts with punchy, rumbling electric guitar before becoming … another fairly easygoing number. Though it picks up about halfway through with a sassy vamp and gains a touch of church, it seems a bit conflicted about what genre it is and how much energy it intends to have. "Move on Over," the jazzified, brassy churchy tribute, feels dramatically different from the rest of the album. It's pleasant enough, yet seems an odd, if retrospectively poignant, addition.

Though well executed, this album seems like an unusually mellow block of songs for a live performance, even given the generally smooth vibe of soul/neo-soul. Still, highlights of the album include a refreshing tribute to the late Ron Winans (McClendon sings his signature song "Uphold Me" with her own sleek, easy richness), the deeply personal "You Still Love Me," and the earnest "Joy of My Desire."

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Live From the House of Blues
Our Rating
3½ Stars - Good
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Release Date
January 31, 2006
Label
Columbia
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