Adventurous souls who like their soul more experimental than traditional could do much worse than check out the new album from singer/songwriter STEPHANIE NICOLE whose music on ‘Solutionary One’ out-Badus a certain Erykha Badu.
Ms Nicole hails from Virginia and her music career began in the theatre where her classical training stood her in good stead. Now California-based, the singer made waves back in 2013 with her ‘Voices’ EP – a set that proclaimed the arrival of a new neo-soul singer who was prepared to push each and every stylistic envelope. Before that she was a member of the Select Women’s Ensemble which channelled the music of people like Erykah Badu, Macy Gray and India Arie and since then she’s pursued her solo ambitions and ‘Solutionary One’ is the culmination of everything she’s worked on over the years.
Co-produced and co-written with Craig Perkins (aka Classroom Craig) the eleven tracker isn’t an easy listen. The mood throughout is edgy and sombre; in places it’s downright sinister as on the opener ‘Diligence’. The most accessible tune is ‘Just Love Her’ while the most appealing is probably ‘Welcoming Change’ which opens with a kind of Gregorian chant before morphing into an R&B shuffle peppered with some crazy organ. With other songs entitled ‘Vow Of Nevers’, ‘Cartographic Collage’ and ‘Maha Meditation’ (an Eastern vibe) you know you’re not in for an easy ride.
Stephanie Nicole’s ‘Solutionary One’ is eclectic, complex and brave. It’s out now on bbe records.