Various Artists

Nina Revisited: A Tribute to Nina Simone

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While the year 2015 saw the release of three films inspired by the maverick and icon Nina Simone, Nina Revisited is attached to the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, a loving tribute itself, but also a painfully honest one. This possible soundtrack takes a more abstract route while offering the same love and reverence, and it's also an almost-solo album from Lauryn Hill, the driving force behind six of the album's 16 tracks. A traditional and stately take on "Feeling Good" is the obvious pick for the artist, but her bold and vicious delivery of "I've Got Life" is equally as grand. Her "Wild Is the Wind" is elegance with an edge, while "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair" is surprisingly spacy but solidly built, and with Robert Glasper's name among the album's producers credits, the backing band is expectedly red hot. Glasper surrounds Mary J. Blige with a tight and small R&B band on "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and they make the song sound rightfully huge, and on the other end of the spectrum, there's Usher going full Michael Jackson as he turns "My Baby Just Cares for Me" into a sweet "The Girl Is Mine"-soundalike. The jazz-rap gift of "We Are Young, Gifted and Black" (Common and Lalah Hathaway), a funky and furious "Sinnerman" (Gregory Porter), and a reggae take on "Baltimore" inspired by the Tamlins version (Jazmine Sullivan) display how Simone's influence is felt far and wide to this day. Add a closing number from the artist herself and this free-form tribute becomes a fine and soul-lifting celebration.

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