1967, Music

Nina Simone Sings the Blues (1967)

Simone’s second of three albums in 1967 was her first for a new label and one wonders if that had a lot to do with the rather drastic left-turn on this record. As you can tell from the title, this is a blues record, where influence on her sound was rather muted on the previous record.

Though much less diverse, as you might expect from the title, this record more than makes up for it in its aesthetic. One critic has claimed this is her rawest studio record and it’s easy to see how, once you listen to it. Not only is all the material straight-up blues or at least blues-based,but Simone uses the material to sing with more of a blues-style wail than I’ve heard before. the band is also relatively small, giving the recording a more intimate feel. (Also, if you weren’t sure this was a blues record, there’s a harmonica.)
The song selection is more varied than many of the blues records of the era, which sort of befits the idea that this is more of a jazz musician’s take on the blues, even if this isn’t really jazz at all. (There is a song from Porgy and Bess, a favourite of jazz musicians.)

Though I think I generally prefer the more diverse side of her, I must admire her to committing so much to a style that many musicians of her background and education might have looked down upon.


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