Album Review | POP

Meshell Ndegeocello, ‘Pour une âme souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone’


Nina Simone wasn’t interested in genre so such as essence. She often took familiar jazz, pop, blues, and folk songs and turned them inside out, ending up with an interpretation distinctly her own. Meshell Ndegeocello, a bassist, singer, and songwriter who also knows her way in and out of various styles, takes a similar approach on her enlightened new homage to Simone. It’s astonishing to hear Ndegeocello deconstruct these 14 songs that cut across Simone’s deep discography. Whereas Simone would typically boil, Ndegeocello mostly prefers to simmer. “Turn Me On” and “Feeling Good,” seductive and slow as molasses, sound like something Sade would record. “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” shimmers as a soulful lover’s lament. The folk staple “House of the Rising Sun” gets a funk revamp. Only “Suzanne” resembles Simone’s version, keeping intact her driving arrangement. A steely take on “Four Women” renders the song virtually unrecognizable. Simone would never have recorded it that way, and that’s the point of this illuminating album. (Out Tuesday) JAMES REED

ESSENTIAL “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”

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