June 19th, 2007
Title: Just Like a Woman: Nina Simone Sings Classic Songs of the ’60s
Artist: Nina Simone
Label: Sony Legacy
Catalog Number: 82876 85174 2
Nina Simone is a legend, not only because of her talent at the piano, but because of her unique vocal styling on songs like “Strange Fruit,” “Sinnerman,” and “I Love you Porgy.” Though she wrote none of these songs, her versions became iconic in their own right. Simone’s body of work is huge and so is her legacy; she had a major impact on jazz, blues, soul, and popular music in America.
Just Like a Woman is a collection of fourteen rock and folk music songs recorded and reinterpreted by Simone during her late ’60s and early ’70s tenure at RCA. The anthology includes works by rock and pop music songwriting greats like Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Barry Gibb and Pete Seeger. In listening to these tracks one gets the sense that Simone felt, or made, a connection with each song.
Many of the songs will be familiar to most listeners, including “Here Comes the Sun,” “Mr. Bojangles” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” In these cases it is always interesting to compare the more well-known version with Nina’s interpretation. Throughout the album her version differs from the originals in both obvious and subtle ways. Some of the arrangements were formerly for rock bands, but now it’s just Simone and her piano. A more subtle change can be found on “Just Like a Woman,” where she sings most of the song as originally written in the third person, and then shifts the lyrics to talk about herself in the closing lines.
An album such as Just Like a Woman can be different things to different listeners. It can remind you of the timelessness of great songwriting; it can also remind you of Nina Simone’s tremendous diversity as an artist. Unfortunately, Just Like a Woman does not necessarily achieve either of these objectives—as a whole it is a little underwhelming on both fronts. This is a project geared more towards Nina Simone enthusiasts who are interested in owning her complete collection.
Posted by fredara mareva
Review Genre(s): Popular, Rock, and Misc.