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A Magazine for Sheffield

Pour Une Ame Souveraine

More than a mere collection of cover songs, Pour Une Ame Souveraine is an album made with warmth and affection. To follow her last record Weather, Meshell Ndegeocello has released a set of Nina Simone compositions. She is joined by regular band members Chris Bruce (guitar), Jebin Bruni (keys), Deantoni Parks (drums) and guest musicians including Sinead O'Connor, Lizz Wright and Cody ChesnuTT.

Instead of trying to reproduce the versions made famous by Nina Simone, Meshell Ndegeocello and co-producer Chris Bruce have added subtle changes. Similarities can be drawn with Weather in tempo and execution, but adding their own style and personality has helped give the music a sense of freedom and spontaneity.

An important factor is that the album sounds like a band rather than a solo artist supported by a group of session musicians. Even guest vocalists are introduced the music remains dynamic, especially on 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' and 'To Be Young Gifted And Black', with Lizz Wright and Cody Chestnutt both giving strong, committed performances. Minor faults to be found in 'House Of The Rising' and 'Be My Husband'; while Toshi Reagon and Valerie June give good renditions, the high energy sounds out of place with the records mellow eroticism.

Meshell Ndegeocello's bass playing is technically fluid, but it is her voice that stands out. By moving from a husky tone to soft, high notes she lends the music a sensual depth. This is evident on 'Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood', 'Real Real' and 'Feeling Good'. It is refreshing that Meshell Ndegeocello hasn't become overshadowed by the source material. She acknowledges Nina Simone's influence, but expresses a deep fondness for the music itself.

Comparisons can be made between Meshell Ndegeocello and Nina Simone as both are strong female artists, but ultimately it is the music that matters.Pour Une Ame Souveraine is the type of tribute that creates new appreciation for the original material.