Leah LaBelle‘s come a long way since her run on American Idol.
After topping out at twelfth place on Season 3 just under a decade ago (we’re all old), the soulful songstress began lending her pipes as backup for the likes of Keri Hilson (Keri Hilson!) and Jordin Sparks, as well as heading out on tour with Robin Thicke. Persistence paid off, leading to a joint record deal in 2011 between LA Reid‘s Epic Records, Jermaine Dupri‘s So So Def Recordings and Pharell‘s new label, I Am Other. (You know, no pressure or whatever.)
Last year, LaBelle made some waves on the blogosphere and beyond with her major label debut “Sexify,” a sexy throwback to classic, feel-good R&B. (The video for which, by the way, features her BFF: MuuMuse fave/grown ass woman, JoJo.)
Now she’s back–and even better: “Lolita” is the latest taste from LaBelle’s long-awaited debut; a Pharrell-produced disco-tinged strut that entirely hits the spot. “Am I the aim of your fascination? Am I the eye of your storm?” Miss Labelle teases above the infectious stomp, bass plucks and lightly synthesized vibes. That melodic chorus, too, is an instant earworm: “I was born to make something you never done, you’ll be forever young,” she croons.
It’s a solid blend of funk and ferocity; the kind of freshness that Justin Timberlake probably should have served up for his first foray back into music. (Oh, and that fierce cover art doesn’t hurt either. Look at those stems!)
I’m thoroughly obsessed. Nabokov would surely be proud.
Leah LaBelle’s debut is due out in 2013. (iTunes)