Meklit Hadero's dusky voice has been favorably compared to that of the legendary Nina Simone, with devilish and gritty bits of Tracy Chapman or Joan Armatrading tossed in. The Ethiopian-born, Brooklyn-bred resident of Northern California presents this debut album, featuring a variety of styles from vintage jazz to contemporary singer/songwriter, acoustic folk, bossa nova, calypso, and some Afro-beat or ethnic fusion. Her spare two-chord guitar playing lends to the airy nonchalant feeling, but at times she uses more powerful outspoken word play (in English) that continually draws your interest to her. With such diversity, Hadero is hard to pigeonhole, for she sings so well, as on the swinging "Float & Fall" alongside trumpeter Darren Johnston, or the ethnic version of the show tune "Feeling Good," accented by the ney flute. A funky waltz take of the traditional "Abbay Mado," or the personalized "You & the Rain" identify this artist as a romantic within her own terms. While not stunning, this debut effort offers so much in terms of potential, as we wonder which path she'll choose on a follow-up. For now, this is a finely crafted effort that should yield repeat visits on anyone's CD player.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos