If you like your music heavy on funk and soul, then you need Liv Warfield’s second album, The Unexpected, in your life. Truth be told, you should buy it just based purely off her amazing live performances that have been televised on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Arsenio Hall Show. But would you expect anything less than a tight live showing from Prince’s frequent backing vocalist? Probably not. However, a consistent and far from dull album is harder to guarantee, no matter how flawless the performer or who the album is executive produced by (in this case, Prince). Thankfully, Liv Warfield’s The Unexpected lives up to the hype and then some.
With the somewhat ominous proclamation that “You are now entering the world of Liv Warfield,” the album kicks off with a brass-filled intro that quickly leaves behind any doubt on the weight of the riches to be found on The Unexpected, before moving on to the guitar-driven title track. From here it’s full throttle for Warfield, with the soulful vocalist taking no prisoners with the fast-paced, high-voltage, rock-tinged lead single “Why Do You Lie?,” the big band style of “BlackBird” and the frenzied “Catch Me If You Can,” which sees Warfield unapologetically head over heels.
On the second half of the album, we become reacquainted with the softer side to Warfield, which is welcome. The tones in her voice when she’s tenderly singing show a vulnerable, fragile side as opposed to the ballsy, don’t-hold-back huge vocals that filled the first half. “Don’t Say Much” is a standout sonically, with its ebbs and flows throughout the verse and chorus and the contrast between Warfield’s subtle purring in the verses and the assertive lyrical content. "When you see me don’t say nothin’ / Turn me around and grab something," she coos. The understated details continue on “Freedom” where a marching band style drum beat rolls over Warfield’s compelling proclamation that she’s made the choice to be a freedom fighter.
Whether passionately pouring her heart out to her lover (“Stay – Soul Lifted” and “Come Back”) or discussing “Lena Blue,” the one consistent factor on The Unexpected is the detail in the tracks -- every instrument is perfectly placed, from the punchy horn lines, to delicate guitar licks, to drum fills. All of these details make Warfield’s pedigree clear. The Unexpected is a soul album with appeal not only for musicians, who’ll no doubt relish in all the nuances and intricacies in sound, but to music lovers who like their music genre-bending, packed full of substance (and horns!) and delivered brazenly.