by Lindsey Jo Hand
I have to admit, upon first listening to Marla Mase’s new album SPEAK Deluxe, I wasn’t sure what to think. There’s a lot going on, and it’s a lot to take in. Probably most impressive and endearing about the album is Mase’s passion and raw energy. These days, it’s hard to find a female performer who stays true to her artistic integrity, and there is no question that with SPEAK Deluxe, Marla Mase is saying exactly what she needs and wants to say. With tracks like “AnnaRexia”, “Scream”, and “Kill Love”, this is an album that makes a statement and is the quintessential album for feminists and human rights activists.
With that said, SPEAK Deluxe isn’t something I would normally find myself listening to on a daily basis. Marla is backed by the Tomás Doncker Band, which is the best aspect of this album. The sound is a mix of funk, punk, R&B, rock, and even some reggae. It’s solid and gets you up and moving. However, Mase’s vocals are lacking and at times irritating. She has a strong, guttural voice, but it gets old quickly. Although each song is provocative and meaningful, the lyrics are at times a bit simplistic and unimaginative.
While SPEAK Deluxe isn’t really my style, I have to give Marla Mase some credit. Through her music, she clearly aims to educate and encourage women to embrace and love who we are and not fall prey to the pressures mainstream media have put on us to have the perfect face and perfect body. “AnnaRexia” , the one reggae track on SPEAK Deluxe featuring Garrison Hawk, is spearheading the StayImperfect Project or Love Your Butt Campaign, which Marla created to empower women to love themselves and their bodies. Proceeds from “AnnaRexia” go towards Project HEAL, a nonprofit founded by two teenage eating disorder survivors, that raises funds for girls whose families cannot afford to send them to treatment.