Queen Latifah – The Dana Owens Album

Queen LatifahQueen Latifah
The Dana Owens Album
(A&M – 2004)
by Barry Johnson

The Queen has just added another diamond to her crown. This Jersey Girl is smokin’ hot, she has it all and this proves it once again! Talent, beauty, brains, personality, good taste and a truly amazing voice. A set of standards the rapper/actress decided to cover, features a host of jazz classics and R & B favorites. In a wonderful departure from her hip hop roots, the Queen is spreading her wings and we are so fortunate to be here to enjoy it. This is a high risk transition for someone of her stature in the rap/hip hop community. She has all the right stuff and has branched out to show her impressive talent in recent years with very successful mainstream ventures into TV & movie ventures.

Latifah is at her seductive best when playing the sultry siren on Al Green’s “Simply Beautiful.” With a little help from Green himself, Latifah’s vocals slide over the warm, organ-drenched instrumental. The result is one that works today as well as it would have several years ago. Similarly, the big band-backed “Baby Get Lost” swings with bluesy groove that is pure nostalgia.

However, it’s when she mines more standard fare that the album seems to hit a snag. Fans of James Moody’s “Moody’s Mood for Love” may want to skip Latifah’s version as it misses the subtle perfection of the original. Her rendition of “I Put a Spell On You” doesn’t falter, but it’s not impressive either. It ends up being the kind of performance that finds you constantly waiting for more but never getting it. The same can be said for her cover of the Mamas & The Papas’ “California Dreamin’.”

With help from legendary producer Arif Mardin (Aretha Franklin), The Dana Owens Album is an interesting and impressive new chapter in the star’s diverse career. This may be the one that wins a Grammy, it will be well deserved. It displays her versatility in covering everything from standards, to soul, to gospel, and just about everything in between.

If for no other reason, buy this CD for the beautiful cover portrait of a true Queen, and once you hear her you will be transformed!