Rumor has it, some folks haven't figured out how to whisper into their lover's ear. Take note: A sexy whisper isn't supposed to sound as though you're puffing into a candy-striped coffee stirrer lodged in someone's ear canal. It's also not supposed to sound like you're in the library, using your best indoor voice but still pissing off everyone who's sitting at the tables around you. Don't take it from me, though. Rather, download Carlitta Durand's debut mixtape, Carlitta's Way: The Prelude, and jack her whisper swag because, boy, does she get it. Even if Durham's Durand is singing at normal volume, she separates herself from her local soul contemporaries Yahzarah and Keisha Shontelle by allowing her voice to ferment just enough so that it feels breathy, like a whisper. It's not overly sexual (like a late-night phone line), but it is so damned seductive and soft.
Perhaps you know Durand's mellifluous tones from her guest work with Little Brother ("Life of the Party," "Sirens," "Time of Your Life"), with Murs ("Breakthrough") or through her affiliation with the North Carolina Central University-based hip-hop crew The Academy. Hanging with the rowdy rap bunch apparently hasn't hardened any of her feminine wiles. Indeed, Carlitta's growing live résumé and grandstanding guest appearances is what delivered her to us, but on this 11-song offering, Durand uses that voice to portray and manipulate all situations involving love, late-night clubbing and sex. On "Decisions," she adds a mature twist to a conversation with a new love interest: "I know you gotta do what's right/ She needs you by her side/ You gotta raise your child," she offers. "She wants to be your wife/ but if you decide to follow your heart ... I'll be here."
While Durand is probably a bit young to have gone through this sort of existential love crisis, she's old enough to understand the self-love glamorized in R&B in 2002. Singer Tweet (no relation to Twitter) released the hit song "Oops (Oh My)," a woman's soul salute to masturbation. Durand takes it a step further on "Her," during which she personifies her anatomy. She lets us in on the private party, and it's, well ... Let's just say we could have a whole album of this sort of thing and never complain, all right?