Pour Une Ame Souveraine: A Dedication To Nina Simone

Meshell Ndegeocello

Naive Records, 2012


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Meshell Ndegeocello's name might be familiar to you from “Wild Night,” her duet with John Mellancamp that peaked in the top three on the Billboard charts. Though her time spent hitting those charts is pretty minimal, the vocalist, bassist, rapper and songwriter has racked up ten Grammy Award nominations. To say her career has been noteworthy might be doing her a disservice. To say she's been involved with some of the most universally embraced music of this generation might be more accurate, as Ndegeocello has played on records by Madonna, The Indigo Girls, and even The Rolling Stones. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Here, Ndegeocello pays homage to Nina Simone, collecting songs associated with or penned by Simone. The title translates to For A Sovereign Soul. Though Ndegeocello's bass and voice are the epicenter of the music here, she does enlist several musicians and guest vocalists (including Sinead O'Conner) to help round out the work.

Always unclassifiable and eclectic, Ndegeocello puts her own unique spin on each of these 14 tracks, reworking them with her own vision. Though each song is characterized by sophistication and timelessness, each song also radiates in its own light with different tones. “Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood” is a soulful, pensive song, while “House Of The Rising Sun” is a playful, funk endeavor. The mood she sets here is calming; “Feeling Good” and “Turn Me On” are so relaxing you'll be looking for the nearest hammock. Elsewhere, things get interesting with the lush, atmospheric “Four Women,” or the extremely sparse “Nobody Fault But Mine,” where Ndegeocello and Lizz Wright complement one another's singing.

An extremely elegant, lovely listen, there isn't a flawed moment here. A mashing of folk, blues, and soul, this is a very moving and sometimes haunting listen that genre skips in a very mature fashion. Pour Une Ame Souveraine is a fantastic memorial and a soothing way to spend the better part of an hour.

Rating: A

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