Black Music Matters Festival

Letitia VanSant

Gut it to the Studs – 2018 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

See it on Amazon

CDs by Letitia VanSant

Baltimore songstress Letitia VanSant offers up a most impressive entry with "Gut It to the Studs," an album offering up her readily engaging melodies in ways that all but assure an immediate embrace. She has some help in crafting her compositions - Elephant Revival's Charlie Rose among them - but credit is largely due VanSant herself for providing such a worthy and wider debut.

If VanSant were to rely on her seductive songs only, "Gut It to the Studs" would be worthy of acceptance on that basis only. The fact that she shares a socially conscious message that resonates throughout these reflective tomes effectively adds to her sense of purpose. Aside from garnering recognition at several festivals and music gatherings nationwide, her efforts advocating for humanitarian causes have brought her ready recognition as well.

Consequently, the clarity, grace and beauty she conveys - "Bluebird," "Sundown Town" and "The Field" are but three of the most obvious examples - are complemented by lyrics that reflect a deep sense of cause and commitment. "Let me remember in the leaner times, that I'll reap what I've sown once again," she says succinctly on the latter. Likewise, few performers could cover the Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" and not only own it entirely, but also inform it with an individual identity as well.

"Let her wild heart roam," VanSant coos on "Wild Heart Roam," one of the final songs in the set. Indeed, based on this exemplary outing, we can only hope she's bearing that mantra in mind herself.