3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1989: A young, sassy chick is singing / rapping about a "Manchild", boldly introducing herself with her ingenious, fiery, aptly-titled debut, "Raw like sushi". 2014: 25 years on, that same chick, inside the body of a 50 year-old woman, returning with her first solo material in 17 years, is breaking barriers once again. Recorded during a 5-day creative burst, in an attempt to retain its raw immediacy, this 10-track set is mixing it all up, stripped down to a level of a stunning simplicity, exactly where the heart of its pure genius and brilliance lies. Amidst sparse melodies, soulful beats and electronic backdrops, experimenting with sounds and textures, Neneh Cherry reconnects with her roots while forging a future progression, being adventurous, riveting, undimmed by age.
Addressing personal and social issues, it seems as if she is making up for previous years, and most of what has been going through her mind. And, although it arose from a personal tragedy, and her grieving for her mother's passing back in 2009 is evident lyrically, "Blank project" is neither pessimistic nor death-focused. Cherry's obvious motive is to make listeners feel rather than merely sympathise with her emotional nakedness. Due to her forceful personality, and assisted by the intensity of her plainspoken delivery of the material, she totally succeeds in doing so. Clearly not for eveyone to enjoy and appreciate, "Blank project" will reward generously those willing to experience this unique musical treat. It took more than just "7 Seconds" to return, but she was worth waiting for.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2014
Great album and a very unexpected pleasant surprise. Neneh Cherry has produced a funky, cool, spikey pop classic that does not compromise to commerciality but is still full of enough hooks to draw you in. I found it fresh and vital from the first listen, with the percussion in particular being superbly produced and propelling the whole thing forward. The instrumentation is minimalist, but the album is all the better for it, allowing the drum grooves and Ms Cherry's vocals to shine. This will be one of the best of the year, no question.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2014
I have loved everything this lady has ever produced, not least because she always chooses to stay away from commercial categorisation. Her upbringing and influences have always enmeshed themselves into her music and every time you listen to one of her albums, you discover something you hadn't noticed before. Raw Like Sushi means more to me in my thirties than it did in my teens. Blank Project takes a few listens. At first it shocks you, maybe annoys you. The next time you play it, you realise that it's starting to unfold and you get it. You get her sounds more and more till you can't remember what it was that irked you and you realise you've gone through some kind of aural learning process. Neneh pushes you to explore sounds. In this album, she asks you to come with her on a very private journey following the death of her mother Moki. In an interview she says her grief became so heavy she was unable to tie her shoes. You feel that on this album. What you also sense is the spirit of an enormously positive woman who still wants to break through and come out fresh! The gritty punk beats, muffled bass, slick hints of dnb and Old Orleans funeral drums cascade through you and you know you have experienced a very fine recording from a very soulful, elegant, sassy and proud woman who is awesome in her 50th year!
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 24 February 2014
This may be Neneh Cherry's first solo album in over 16 years, but I guarantee you she's been more active as a collaborator and producer since the mid-1980's. Now it's come around to her turn to step up to the mike, and she's dropping the new album "Blank Project," which sounds more like an experiment than album.
Neneh's first album "Raw Like Sushi" exploded out of the gates back in 1989, and although the record labels she's been with wanted more pop-friendly, she was one of the few artists to have kept it real and produce more wonderful music than any of her counterparts since. She has gone on to collaborate with an amazing array of world artists in many different genres, and has always been busy, but this is her time, and this is her current vision.
This album has quite the pedigree in terms of help - it's a cross-collaboration with longtime friends RocketNumberNine, with acclaimed producer Four Tet at the helm, and featuring a guest appearance by Robyn - and as an album, it pounds out of the speakers with an amazing bit of one or two mellow jams mixed in with hard house beats and amazing words.
The music itself seems to be a couple of drums and a few synthesizers to assist her, but they compliment each other so elegantly. It's tribal on one end and modern and jazzy with fresh beats on the other. There are tracks here for everyone to enjoy. Not bad for a 10-track album that was recorded and mixed over a breezy 5-day period.
Here's my 5 second review each of the songs on the album:
01. Across The Water - the mellow bump of Neneh's tribal drums versus her jazz riffs about what really goes on in the night is a classy tribute to her stepfather, jazz legend Don Cherry. She reaches across the Atlantic to reach for her roots in New York City, and travels quietly to and fro, back to her adopted country in England.
02. Blank Project - this song comes out at you with an aural assault with hard drums and harder lyrics, and the story is as old as time itself - you have me and I have you, but what about the compromises, what about the battles? Life, like love, is a blank project, and we hold the brush.
03. Naked - Neneh channels her inner world beats self by explaining where her head is: she's naked and ready for whatever's out there. The music sounds a little familiar, but in her hands she manipulates and reaaranges the sounds for her benefit, and this is one of the more fun tracks of this serious project.
04. Spit Three Times - in this song, her fears of what is bigger than her creates within her superstitions, and she fears falling, and instead of knocking wood about what she wants gone from her life, she spits three times and walks away. At least for now...
05. Weightless - crunchy synths complement her amazing voice the best in this song without overpowering her (too much), and she wants to be graceful and wonderful but it's not working very well. This song is just one of the best and the most catchy of the album.
06. Cynical - it starts off a little incomplete, but glides right into the most urgent messages Neneh put on the album itself. As she says very clearly here, "Don't think I'm so cynical now, I've found my sound." And this is a sound with noting, as it's a genre and message she's not only comfortable with, but she's celebrating.
07. 422 - what is the meaning of this song? Does it matter? There's a message, but I'm just going with the flow at this point. Her riffs are clean and flawless, and it may sound heavily orchestrated, but the music is so simple, and her voice floats over it so easily. I feel a bit of a Bjork vibe here, as it breaks all traditions of what could be called "proper music," but her vision is clear here. I hope you can feel it too.
08. Out Of The Black (featuring Robyn) - this song is the one I think they spent the most time making sure it was done 'just right.' Robyn and Neneh's voices blend magically, and although the music is a bit minimal, I am so glad it's not a manufactured bit of pop crap. The song is worth a second listen, and very much a fun track! It grabs at you and doesn't let go.
09. Dossier - boy gives girl number, girl loses number, girl finds number, calls... and all of a sudden this song becomes an explosive thing all to itself, as it seems to go on and on and on. Choices are strange, and sometimes random, and can become something greater than the message. This song is a perfect punctuation to that.
10. Everything - sampled voices, cold beats, and Neneh traps her version of the sounds of the streets and the voices that are everywhere, and with that she wonders if everything really is everything if it's so here and there? Can you grab it all, hear it all, think it all? She seems really good with what she misses and goes with the flow, and I think that's all she's done the whole time.
In the end I'll have to give Neneh 5 healthy stars.
The album is inventive, not dated, the beats you keep you listening, and if you're into what I can only throw out there as "superjazz" vocals mixed with world beats, then she's the gal for you, and this album is a must-buy for you as well.
She has been traveling in new directions for over 10 years, and in 2012 her jazz fusion collaboration "The Cherry Thing" with Norwegian/Swedish group The Thing was a hit, but many thought this might have been the closest they would ever get to a "solo" type album by her.
Well, this newest album does not disappoint, and you will not be either.
(thanks for reading, please leave a comment or a thumbs up [or down], and don't forget to read my other reviews of many other diverse artists!)