Have you ever looked at a beautiful half-finished yet abandoned house, and wondered what could have been had the owner finished it? Wondered what marvel you could have witnessed had the architect’s glorious plans for it come to fruition? Listening to Lakol’s latest album The Boss, one has that same wonder.
That wonder…followed by a series of questions: Were Stanley Toussaint, the group’s leader, and his bandmates in a sort of rush to put out a product that what they finally yielded this? Was The Boss album a simple teaser for something greater? Toussaint isn’t the problem. His voice at least isn’t a problem. He has a seraphic voice that easily navigates through ballads, uptempo and dance songs. As a matter of fact, Toussaint is easily one of the best Haitian singers from the last decade (and still one of the best in contemporary times), first as the lead vocalist of the 1990s group Lakol, before testing solo artist waters. The song “Electricté” for instance, one of the best songs that the album has to offer, has Toussaint’s fragile falsetto wading through the ballad like an able mariner tackling the sea.
The song “The Boss”, has its moments, but with its lyrics concentrating on past glories—in the end it comes off as a mere braggadocio fare. The song “Yon Sèl Fanm” is another matter. It’s the best song on the album, hands-down. Toussaint handles the song the way an able-bodied man would handle an evildoer, with warrior-like grace. He does a lot of verbal gymnastics, so that when the song ends, one wishes it could go on and on, as it is a great showcase for Toussaint’s gorgeous voice. Listening to “Yon Sèl Fanm, one feels a tingle of regret. Had the album gone in that direction, had the album not been rushed to the presses only to give one the impression that it’s half-baked. Oh, if only…
Lakol’s The Boss is like a spectacular house at near-completion. Looking at its promising structure, you wonder what could have been had the construction been completed thoroughly. Oh, well. It isn’t too late. Shall we submit another building permit application to the local municipality for construction on a brand new house, or acquire permission to resume building on the old structure?