Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
Musically, singer/songwriter/producer Lina may have one foot in the past, but she is definitely facing forward.
In the four years since "Stranger on Earth," her debut on Atlantic Records, the Los Angeles-based artist has stayed busy. In 2003, she signed with Hidden Beach Recordings and launched her own label, MoodStar Records.
Earlier this year, she produced and sang on the first album in MoodStar's "Save Your Soul" compilation series. And she returned June 28 with her sophomore album, "Inner Beauty Movement."
Even with these changes in her life, Lina says, some things remain constant: "I still have the same friends, and we still have the same guy situations."
And while those "guy situations" provided inspiration for several tracks on "Inner Beauty Movement," the Epic/Sony Music-distributed album is not just more of the same.
"[The album] is an evolution," Lina says. "It's more about the concepts this time than the music."
Lina maintains her signature vintage vocals and '40s jazz- and swing-inspired instrumentals. However, she increases the hip-hop and R&B beats, giving the album a more modern sound than her debut.
Songs about finding someone who will never leave flow seamlessly into songs about taking control of a failed relationship and standing up for oneself. The overall theme of self-empowerment reinforces the album's title.
"The inner beauty movement is your truth," Lina explains. "My plan is to get people to realize themselves, focus on who they are and love that person."
The album's 18 tracks were chosen from nearly 40 songs, according to Hidden Beach founder and CEO Steve McKeever. "Every single meeting we had to close the record out, she would come in with an 'Oh, I just wrote this last night. What do you think?'"
First single "Smooth," for example, was the last song Lina wrote for the project. This soulful tune about the joy and pain of a strained relationship was added during the mastering process.
Lina was featured on iTunes throughout June with exclusive and advance downloads, an album presale and a preview of the "Smooth" video directed by Lionel Martin.
In the spring, Lina also invited fans to participate in her songwriting process. She posted the first verse and hook to the song "More" on her Web site, inviting visitors to write the rest of it. The winning entry may appear on a future album.
Excerpted from the July 2, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to Billboard.com subscribers.
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