Album review: Marsha Ambrosius, "Late Nights & Early Mornings"
Formerly known as "The Songstress," Marsha Ambrosius was once the R&B half of British hip-hop/R&B outfit Floetry. The duo broke up in the mid-'00s, and after releasing a series of mixtapes and appearing on some moderately high profile feature stints (such as Nas's "Hustlers" and the great David Banner track "Be With You"), Ambrosius has finally issued her official solo debut, "Late Nights & Early Mornings."
Most of its tracks are glossy slow jams: Harmony-heavy, lovelorn, evocative of neo soul's early-aughts heyday, they're made interesting - if never essential - by Ambrosius's velvet curtain of a voice. Some are lovely (like the current single "Far Away"), others are drab (the lurching "With You," co-written with Alicia Keys); most are somewhere in between.
Ambrosius seeds "Late Nights" with a handful of attention-getters: "Lose Myself" is a slowed-down cover of the Lauryn obscurity; there's a new version of "Butterflies," the syrupy ballad, co-written by Ambrosius, that appeared on Michael Jackson's last studio album, "Invincible," and a not-that-different cover of Portishead's hit "Sour Times," complete with an approximation of that song's familiar hammered dulcimer noises.
Best of all is "Hope She Cheats on You (With a Basketball Player)," a bristling revenge anthem ("Hope that she Kim Kardashian'd her way up/Don't know the difference 'tween a touchdown and a layup") that's the funniest, liveliest thing here.
Recommended tracks: "Hope She Cheats on You (With a Basketball Player)," "Sour Times"