M. Nahadr


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R&B radio is much, much more conservative than it was back in the 1960s and '70s; consequently, most modern R&B singers play it way too safe, and many A&R people who focus on R&B are quick to sign the most generic artists they can get their hands on. Nonetheless, some seriously talented neo-soul/urban vocalists managed to break through in the '90s and 2000s, including Jill Scott, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill, and Erykah Badu. And Mem Nahadr shows herself to be a welcome addition to neo-soul on the self-produced Eclecticism. This is hardly one of those cookie-cutter urban contemporary albums that sounds like the cynical result of a marketing meeting; Nahadr takes chances, bringing a strong jazz influence to stream of consciousness offerings like "Starlight," "Deep in a Shallow Bed," and "Funny Ha Ha or Funny Strange." This isn't a jazz vocal album per se; stylistically, the expressive Nahadr is much closer to Badu and Scott than she is to hardcore jazz vocalists such as Nnena Freelon, Vanessa Rubin, Judy Niemack, and Kitty Margolis. But like Badu and Scott, Nahadr obviously knows how much jazz elements can do to enrich an R&B foundation -- and she is certainly free-spirited in a way that most of the R&B singers who emerged in the 2000s are not. Nahadr isn't afraid to be quirky when she feels like it; actually, she becomes a little too self-indulgent on occasion. But Nahadr's excesses are not a major issue, and they are a very small price to pay considering how rewarding Eclecticism is on the whole. All things considered, this is an excellent and highly promising CD from Nahadr.

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