2008’s Self Portrait is the most cohesive and self-assured album of Lalah Hathaway’s career. Its highly sophisticated sound comes courtesy of Rex Rideout, who has worked closely with Angie Stone and Luther Vandross, among others. Standouts like “On Your Own,” “That Was Then," and “Little Girl” play with the tension between lush keyboard chords and skeletal rimshots. Hip-hop is present without being explicit, especially on “1 Mile” and “UDO.” As a singer, Hathaway is flawless. On “Tragic Inevitability” and “Breathe,” she adopts a bluesy murmur, yet the feeling behind the songs is communicated with total clarity. She coaxes listeners into a mood without ever raising her voice.