Set beautifully upon a multi-cultural back beat of sweet soul music comes a divine debut from Parisian based songstress FM Laeti. With a sexy, crystalline and understated production to work from, the smoky and elegant tones of Laeti push her confidently into the limelight for this bright and embracing adventure. Laeti delivers brilliantly on first single “Rise in the Sun” a gorgeous bouncing slice of pop heaven. Her untroubled grasp of a catchy tune and a snappy lyric does much to justify her appearance, this year, on both stage and screen. Laeti has her own thing going on, her chosen path brings an assurance and a natural ability soaked from a solid grounding in the arts and a more than encouraging parentage. This may well be the moment she was born for, alongside co-writer and long term collaborator Francois-Marie Dru, she bops and weaves her way through this irresistible formula of pop and soul. Her approach, though steeped in the tradition of Stax and Motown, is modern, optimistic and demotic. Live, she can cut it too. Her tiny frame capturing an audience with a classy and tender selection of well-balanced and finely honed melodies. “I Got the Boogie”, a mover and a shaker of real quality, fills the dance floor, bringing out the best of her all-star band. “It’s a new beginning … a look to the future” she states. An audience gladly breathes in each nuance of songs such as “Out of My Hands” and “Show Me the Way”. It’s a refreshing kind of groove she has that tells her public to “gimme love and truth”. And they do. She takes to the centre stage without any reserve, holding the crowd with her natural grace and in complete control of her own destiny. It’s hard to resist. Laeti’s musical ability, though, is well earned. From a childhood spent listening to such luminaries as Nina Simone, Curtis Mayfield and particularly Otis Redding. There are also reminders of Eartha Kitt and Etta James in her repertoire. From all of this Laeti has found her very own svelte styling. Aware too of the powerful lyrical messages to be found amongst the greats, especially in Nina’s life, she has now taken on the mantle of those she loved and shaped them for her own purpose. The passion required to communicate such direction isa quality she has in abundance. that special “something” is here. Raised in a travelling musical family, through Guadeloupe, Vancouver, Chicago and Paris, Laeti has found her own path from this rich, deep vein of soul music that she has inherited. Her father, drummer with Zouk music pioneers Kassav, her mother, who co-founded and ran a music school and, later, her step-father a pianist and teacher of the classics, have all left their impression on the talented Laeti. Once a student of ballet, theatre, and vocal jazz she could also be found behind the scenes making costumes. She has seen, from an early age, the highs and lows that often accompany an artist’s life. What a future, then, is in store for a girl who, incredibly, found herself at the centre of quite a different storm at one time. That of Hurricane Hugo and the devastation it left on her precious homeland of Guadeloupe. The “island of beautiful waters”. It’s easier now to see how she manages her performance so coolly. One might suppose that FM Laeti might hold a rather world weary view on what lies ahead, but on the contrary, it’s apparent that this particular songbird wants some more, is home and is here to stay.