This Nina Simone article was written by Steven Loftin, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Nick Roseblade
Nina Simone is one of the most prolific artists to have graced our speakers. She has been fantastically inconsistent with her output, giving us everything from Jazz n Soul, R’n’B, she made sure to cover all of her bases with a voice that simply cannot be matched. With the record ‘Silk & Soul’ we find her at simply that, a voice full of soul and as tender as silk.
There has been much discussion around the production of the album, some saying that it’s overt in it’s production which takes away from the truth and rawness in her voice, others think this is the perfect accompaniment. This is all subjective of course, because nothing can really take away from what magnificence comes out of Simones mouth.
Throughout the record we’re taken through most of, it not all, of Simone’s talents. She takes us to church with her Gospel style such as can be found in ‘Consumation’, a track heavy in religious undertones, along with juxtaposing track ‘Go To Hell’, a sassy, two-finger salute to a lover who’s not worth a dime. She gets even more attitude with album opener ‘It Be’s That Way Sometimes’. Being able to go from attitude to emotionally open in one swift one second track gap is one of her strongest points, as can be seen in the second track ‘The Look of Love’ a cover of the Burt Bacharach original. Though it may not be as captivating as the original, she lends her unique take on this classic track.
At a time of revolution and unrest, it was a perfect platform for Simone to highlight racial inequality with the track ‘The Turning Point’ where she sings from the perspective of a young, white girl wanting to befriend a young, black girl and discovering the inequality for the first time. It’s poignant and all to real in the current climate we have today let alone almost fifty years ago.
Retrospectively, if this album were to be released or reimagined by an artist such as Adele or Lady Gaga, who appears to have been going through a bluesier/jazz phase recently after her co-op album with Tony Bennett, everything would still stand. The content is as ever timeless and the composition is up there with some of the best pop/soul songs. The album was a perfect fit for her catalogue at the time, as previously stated, it just cements her ability to bounce from genre to genre, being a musician rather than a musical pawn.
There is in no doubt that Nina Simone will forever be a name synonymous with music. Her output has been as varied as it is great, and she has the ability to bring a power that only she can to songs. This album is just a mere glimpse into the great career of the late Simone. It should never be forgotten, as neither should she.