KellyLee Evans Nina (Plus Loin Music)Jazz artists regularly reinterpret contemporary’s songs, but KellyLee Evans bravely recorded an album of Nina Simone songs. It’s a bold move, given Simone’s stature, but Evans mostly pulls it off.
Rather than simply mimic Simone, Evans creates her own soulful arrangements, never attempting to be anything but herself—a chanteuses of tremendous vocal inflection, from sultry to shimmering.
Musically, many tracks feel subdued. Some, like “Sinnerman” and “Ain’t Go No/I Got Life,” lack the required urgency (though “Feeling Good” really moves). It’s easy to overlook this; Evans’ voice demands the focus anyway. With 12 tracks, fans of both artists won’t be disappointed.—Glenn BurnSilver
(This review appears in the March 2011 issue of Relix magazine.)