.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/0ff9d2974ca8da5973a90f2db467fa49950a8c39.jpg A Single Woman

Nina Simone

A Single Woman

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 2 0
November 11, 1993

Incomparable and unfathomable, Nina Simone is in her finest form when tearing into the guts and pathos of unlikely songs — by the likes of Bob Dylan, Kurt Weill and Screamin' Jay Hawkins — songs that no other singer who has brushed up against the genre called soul would touch. Hoping to make her into the pop star that various tiny labels and a bizarre stretch on RCA could not, Elektra debuts Simone in a harmless cabaret mood. With his flair for the obvious, producer Andre Fischer (the craftsman of Natalie Cole's yuppie classic, Unforgettable) keeps the arrangements muted and swingy against the simplistic tunes (no fewer than three Rod McKuen compositions pack this record). Simone's grainy, dark and highly self-conscious voice has absolutely nowhere to go.

Not for lack of trying, of course. The range of Simone's vocal expression always outreaches the material's intention; that's her scary charm. But Fischer's work implies that he didn't get out of his armchair once. He's damagingly respectful, denying the possibilities of danger, misery or, God forbid, humor in this menu of jazz-soul nightclub moments. The strings swell to bloating, the piano tinkles distractedly, horns snooze in the background. Interesting choices, such as "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" and Streisand's silly, soaring "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" edge nearest to fulfilling their promise. But overall, A Single Woman aims to do nothing more than entertain pleasantly, and that's the one thing Nina Simone, effortless when provoking, grousing or despairing, just can't do.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Promiscuous”

    Nelly Furtado with Timbaland | 2006

    This club-oriented single featuring Timbaland, who produced Nelly Furtado's third album, Loose, was Furtado’s sexy return after the Canadian singer's exploration of her Portuguese heritage on Folklore. "In the studio, initially I didn’t know if I could do it, 'cause Timbaland wrote that chorus," Furtado said. "I'm like, 'That's cool, but I don't know if I'm ready to do full-out club.'" The flirty lyrics are a dance between a guy and girl, each knowing they will end up in bed together but still playing the game. "Tim and I called it 'The BlackBerry Song,' she said, "because everything we say in the song you could text-message to somebody."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com