Neneh Cherry

Broken Politics

Smalltown Supersound

Dec 07, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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Neneh Cherry hasn't really scaled the heights of mainstream chart success since 1988's "Buffalo Stance." The '90s dawned and she side-stepped pop charts: choosing to experiment with jazz and funk on 1992's Homebrew and world music with 1996's Man. To her credit, she scored another hitwith Youssou N'Dour on the tri-lingual "7 Seconds"motivated by her desire to collaborate on an anti-racist song. What do you expect? The girl once made jewelry, something far more creative and utilitarian, from a Brit award that she had melted down.

On her latest album, Broken Politics, time has not dulled any of her strengthsthe mother-of-three still writes couplets that hook you instantly, and has lost none of that firebrand lyricism. Her art, ever poetic, is even more entrenched in the political than previously. On opener "Fallen Leaves," she sings over a skittering beat: "Is it fallen leaves/The bird shit on my sleeve...Just because I'm down/Don't step all over me." It's no plea. She's had enough.

On "Faster Than the Truth" she sings "lies travel faster than the truth" urging us to look beyond the headlines. With Massive Attack's 3D at the helm, the menacing, scratchy atmospherics of "Kong" belies her Bristol trip-hop roots but also her true activist heart: "My world will always be a another risk worth taking." On "Shot Gun Shack" she takes aim at gun control and its role in the Black Lives Matter movement. Referencing slain teenager Trayvon Martin: "Say my name before you pull it."

Slower jams such as "Synchronized Devotion" and "Black Monday" feature Oriental chimes and offer respite and balance. Yet, louder tracks such as "Kong" and "Natural Skin Deep"with its carefully built urban soundscape of foghorns, police sirens, steel drums, and space invader-electronics, brilliantly counterpointed with free-jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman's saxophone soloare the true standouts. (www.facebook.com/nenehcherryofficial/)

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