Meshell Ndegeocello – Pour Une Ame Souveraine: A Tribute to Nina Simone

Meshell Ndegeocello’s latest record pays homage to Nina Simone in a rather obtuse but nonetheless excellent way. Where Simone was always a fusion between jazz and blues, Ndegeocello explores a wide range of styles here. There’s plenty of R&B, funk, soul, and gospel added to the soufflé.

Upon hearing the delicate rendition of the opening “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” it’s tough to believe this is the same woman that wrote “If That’s Your Boyfriend, He Wasn’t Last Night.” Female collaborators including Toshi Reagon, Valerie June, and Sinead O’Connor all add their voice to Ndegeocello’s in tribute. The record is consistently good throughout, and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” is a standout.  Ndegeocello exercises excellent taste in the company she keeps.

Sonically, the vinyl is much better than the CD (included free with the 2LP set) in every way, yet it the analog version sounds like a 24/96 recording mastered to LP. The recording is big and spacious, with great attention paid to capturing Ndegeocello’s powerful bass playing. The giveaway: a hint of crunchiness on top and slight haze to the overall presentation that tells you it’s not all analog.  -Jeff Dorgay

Naïve Records, 2LP