Two-time Grammy nominee, gospel great and №1 charting dance music queen, Martha Wash is back on the scene with her outstanding album, Love & Conflict. Wash’s voice is spirited as can be, just as it’s suave in tandem with the saxophone and bubbly drum arrangements. She has that natural beat that makes any song feel fun, but she can also make the more dramatic songs sound just as riveting. A show-stopper and an awe-inspiring collection, Love & Conflict is as good as it can get.
I was touched emotionally even from the first song. In “Glamour Flows” Wash quickly establishes that the record is going to be uplifting and euphoric. She’s got that “Happy” (Pharrell Williams) methodology happening for her. The jazzy array of keys, upbeat percussion and her sun kissed voice makes this opener the gateway to a long road of fantastic song. The next batch of songs, “Like Fire” and “Soaring Free” start to move the listener into more emotionally-rich territory. I think she draws from a different vocal well — her voice sounds more urgent and more, oh, contemplative in “Like Fire”. I wondered if she was singing this more for the jazz club, rather than the dance club. While listening to this one I felt like she was taking the listener to a painful part of her past, one that she is okay visiting, but sharing with us something that might give us a lesson in life.
“Flowers Blossom” and “Never Enough Money” are definitely dance hits. These are grooving and even a bit sassy. “Never Enough Money” has some social commentary, and Wash gives her opinions on some folks that aren’t living up to their potential, all the while, she’s being elevated by this deliciously fun organ music bed. It’s got this killer sheen to it that feels very retro and 70s, but more of the groove that you might hear from the San Francisco scene rather than the New York disco scene. I absolutely loved it. I also really dug “Don’t Forget My Name” as Wash reaches her voice to amazing heights and leaves just about every other female vocalist in her dust. She’s absolutely stunning to listen to, and she’s not stuffy about it. She sounds incredibly genuine and real. The last two tracks, “Honey My Friend” and “Rise and Shine” complete the entire experience just like icing on the cake. High praise and high marks indeed for my new favorite singer, Martha Wash.
Apparently I’m very late to the party — Martha Wash has been winning over audiences for decades. While still in high school, Wash recorded with her church choir. The San Franciscan would then become a backup singer for disco legend, Sylvester. Then in 1982, Wash, performing in the duo, The Weather Girls, released the epic hit “It’s Raining Men”. The hits didn’t stop — she has performed with C + C Music Factory, Black Box and Seduction. Love & Conflict is Wash’s third solo album (following her 1993 self-titled debut and 2013’s Something Good). Love & Conflict is on Wash’s own Purple Rose Records and is produced by Sam Basbous, Felix Petit and Andrew David.