After posting up Jamie Cullum as the song of the week, I thought it would be cool to share with you some albums that I get into when I’m not feeling particularly R&B or Hip Hop at the time. I mean sure, this is a R&B site, but we got options, so lets explore. For those of us that aren’t ballin’, feel free to holla at Amazon and get used versions of these 3 albums for less than a dollar each…one of them less than $.10!!!!!!
Cree Summer | Street Farie (1999)
I don’t imagine that I’m shocking the world by saying that Cree Summer, yes, Freddy from A Different World, put out an album. I think at this point, most folks are questioning what it sounds like. If you read this site or nappyafro, you know I try to be pretty discerning about albums and my taste, so don’t me saying that this is one of my favorite albums as fluff. It’s technically classified as “pop” but I’d consider it more of a soft rock/alternative album. This album is heavy on the strings and metaphors and is really enjoyable at the same time. Her rendition of Mean Sleep with Lenny Kravits is my favorite song on the album (check the video here). I’d have to say that Smoothing My Heart is a very close second. There is a Nirvana feel to the music that really goes well with her voice and it’s reverb. The song speaks to being still, patient, and letting things come to her in due time. The most unique song on this album would have to be Naheo. Now, even though my great grandmother was 100% Cherokee, I won’t pretend that I know anything extensive about Native Americans, but I’m sure that we all can imagine what we hear when I say the drums have “that kind of sound” to them (I still don’t know how I feel about that reference). The song itself is one that comes across like something you’d hear in oral tradition/parables. The core message is to never lose yourself and be true to your roots and family. How ironic is it that I really enjoy this song, but my family is about as close as the time between blizzards in Texas. If you find this album (CD resale shop, amazon has it used from $.98) and you can get into some soft rock type music, pick it up.
Jamie Cullum | Twenty Something (2003)
From the first time I heard his voice and the music, I was hooked. That day, I played this CD back to back at least 4 times in it’s entirety before I FORCED myself to take it out. This English young superstar (24) is signed to Verve Records and is normally labelled as Jazz. That can be a bit misleading as this guy is just….good music. Sure, there are some Jazz sensibilities, but there is a lot of big band and swing influence as well not to mention lyrics that wouldn’t be traditionally called Jazz either. There were 2 versions of this album released, and there are too many songs that I love for me to pick a favorite, so I’ll just talk about some of the songs. I’ve already shared High and Dry with you, so I’ll skip that for now. The title track, Twentysomething is really dope to me because it talks about him learning life and exploring the world in hopes of finding himself after college graduation. Like most people I know, I went from college to work, hell, I was working 2 or 3 jobs while in college, so I didn’t get much time to explore the world or learn who I was until much much later….and I’m still learning. Jamie lets us know he can get funky when I Could Have Dance All Night comes on. Complete with a sick bassline and drums that rival your favorite hip hop track, this song does just what the title suggests, makes you dance. The often remade I Get A Kick Out Of You gets a big band swing makeover and this version is the Belle at the ball and most closely resembles Cole Porters version. Istill play All At Sea at least once a week to this day. I can’t even describe this one to you so I’ll just let you check it out. (get the US version from Amazon for less than a dollar!)
All At Sea
Cassandra Wilson | Traveling Miles (1999)
I was fortunate enough to have worked in a record store while I attended college as well. What the job didn’t pay much monetarily, it more than made up for in music experience and atmosphere. This is the job that introduced me to these albums, including this one. Sadly, I was a oblivious to Cassandra Wilson’s music prior to this album and quickly rushed to get more familiar with her after hearing it. I flat out love this CD. As a matter of fact, I’ve bought it 3 times and all of them are pretty beat up. It’s time to re-up. This album is really easy listening Jazz, very peaceful and tranquil…and if you’re not careful, it will carry you to sleep with it’s syrupy songs and Cassandra’s deep soulful voice. Her remake of Time After Time is one of my favorite songs of any genre and was featured on the Brown Sugar soundtrack. The very next song, When The Sun Goes Down is a 6minute schooling of how to make a sexy song where the lyrics make it plain without molesting your senses. I love the way she says “I don’t wanna play no games with you / not like before / and I don’t want to put no chains on you / not anymore / know when out in the rain I call on you / still hear the thunder roar / I just wanna see you when the sun goes down / as simple as that.” Then directly from that song, she finishes off the trifecta with Seven Steps. If you’re a lover of layered tracks and music, you will fall for this one just like I did. I can’t even being to imagine how many instruments she has on this song alone, but it’s incredible. (get this album from Amazon for as less than a DIME!!!!!)