Release Date:
May 1, 2007

Reviewed by:
Shannon West

Check out Nyee Moses' MySpace page and her list of influences will clue you that this is not just a run of the mill singer. Among them are Zap Mama, Me'shell Ndegeocello,  Everything But The Girl, Nina Simone, Jamiroquai, Bob Marley, and Ofra Haza. The international flair is evident throughout throughout her self-titled CD, which also recalls the days when progressive A/C vocalists like Tracy Thorn (ETBTG), Sade, and Julia Fordham reigned. The feature track, "Between Us," is of the freshest and most original genre songs out there. It has actually climbed the corporate smooth jazz chart, a real accomplishment for a vocalist on an independent label who doesn't have oldie credentials. It took a while but this song was too irresistible to pass over, once listeners heard it they had to hear it again. The rest of the CD lives up to that standard.

Her voice is clear, flexible and melodic, a refreshing shift away from the trend toward breathy, waifish female vocalists. She can spin a Sade influenced groove without the dark moodiness that pervaded her recent work and chill without sleep-talking. Even more impressive is the way she can sing about lust and seduction with confidence and authority. Outside of Maysa Leak I can't think of another female singer who doesn't veer into apology and neediness when they venture into this terrain. In "No Limits" she knows she's hooked and not being treated too well she just acknowledges and sings it, her voice gliding over a chilled percussion driven groove. "Vanilla" continues the theme with disappointment meeting attitude over an infectious hook that shifts and layers over spoken lines "I met a friend of a friend..she knows your story."  "Call Me" has a sensual perspective you rarely hear from a female viewpoint.

Don't write Moses off as a background soundtrack for wine and candlelight though. There is a lot more here than that. This project develops a strong spiritual and political thread toward the later tracks. "Acacia Tree" has a tribal feel and a Deep Forest type vocal layered in the background. "The Journey" is a haunting spiritual evocation. The liner notes for "The Journey" say it is "calling on The Ancestors to show the way" but this could be said for most of this part of the CD on some level.  "Under The Sun" with its percussive background and irresistible dance groove is about the importance of giving support and inspiration to the younger ones. "Summertime (The Revolution Mix)," the final track, is a stunning and inventive piece of work. Her languishing delivery of the Gershwin classic is deceptive. She sings with restraint but the emotional intensity builds as the song moves into a deeper context. It is  interspersed with the title line from Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" and a spoken word passage by Krazy Bone (Bone Thugs-N-Harmony) at the end. Hubert Laws' flute work adds a cool retro jazz flavor pulled straight from the era she captures the mood of those long hot summers in the activist sixties. This is a perfect thumbnail for the times we live in, where these feelings still simmer but we keep them covered with pleasant and prettier things.

This multifaceted artist lures you in with the romance, takes you deep, and makes you think. In the process Moses, producer/co-writers Susan Youngblood and Marquis "Hami" Dair, and a group of fine musicians that includes none of the usual "on call" heavyhitters, have spiced up the arrangements with a lot of intriguing  touches and given us lyrics with depth and substance. They've wrapped it all up in a completely listenable and accessible package. It's quite an accomplishment and quite an experience. With this as our introduction to Nyee Moses it is obvious that she has a long career ahead of her and we are going to enjoy and benefit from her continuing growth as an artist.