A Little Love represents vocalist Quiana Lynell’s much-anticipated recording debut. The Texas-born, New Orleans transplant has been teasing audiences with her remarkable talents for some time now, particularly at her regular appearances at jazz clubs and festivals in her new hometown. As the winner of the 2017 Sarah Vaughan International Voice Contest, which landed her the opportunity to record on the prestigious Concord Jazz label, Lynell has also sparked continued interest beyond the Big Easy.
Here, Lynell turns to a variety of composers both contemporary and legendary, to aid in express her musical interests, stylistic capabilities, and remarkable vocal range. A Little Love begins with the lyrically philosophical and effortlessly delivered “We Are,” which also touches on her gospel background. At the album’s end, she goes to church on “Sing Out, March On,” a song that also speaks of her classical voice training, and her passion for sending messages through song.
Romance swirls through much of the album, a vibe enforced by her band, which features the brilliant pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist George DeLancey, guitarist Ed Cherry, and New Orleans drummer Jamison Ross, plus guest vibraphonist and keyboardist Monty Croft on several tunes.
These songs of love come from the pens of giants of the genre. George and Ira Gershwin’s “They All Laughed” is performed in the standard format, with a slowly-offered verse introducing the swing element, which includes Ross stepping up to the mic for a duo with Lynell.
The vocalist gives New Orleans a bow by covering Irma Thomas’ “Hip Shakin’ Mama.”
A highlight of the release is Donny Hathaway and Leroy Ragovoy’s memorable “Tryin’ Times,” a song that was a hit for Hathaway, as well as for singer Roberta Flack. The song suits Lynell well in its hip, socially conscious lyrics and groove. It shows an edgier side of the vocalist, which allows her to express the album’s theme that A Little Love, in whatever form, can go a long way.