Though she might not exactly be a household name in the 25 years since scoring a minor MTV hit with “Buffalo Stance,” in savvier circles Neneh Cherry is a genuine legend. The stepdaughter of game-changing jazz great Don Cherry, the Swedish-born art pop diva has enjoyed a nice career resurgence over the last 10 years: guest-starring on Gorillaz’s sophomore masterpiece “Demon Days;” recording an album with her husband and longtime producer Cameron “Booga Bear” McVey, their daughter Lolita Moon, and son-in-law Matt Kent under the name CirKus; cutting a wild covers record with Swedish jazz warriors The Thing; and surviving Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen on a celebrity edition of “MasterChef.”
And nearly 18 years after her last solo album, 1996’s super slept-on “Man,” the Swedish soul diva continues to pace way ahead of those who’ve come after her on the amazing “Blank Project.” For a girl whose music has helped launch the careers of Geoff Barrow of Portishead, Massive Attack, and – in a bit of cool trivia – the Notorious B.I.G., the choice of Kieran “Four Tet” Hebden as the producer for these 10 new songs should come as no surprise.
What should bug you out, however, is just how Cherry takes control of Hebden’s minimalist grooves no matter what direction he drives them, be it the atmospheric pulse of opening track “Across the Water”, the multi-tentacled “Cynical,” or the abstract club anthemia of “Out of the Black” (featuring fellow Swede Robyn).
For those who have hung with Neneh Cherry since “Raw Like Sushi” a quarter century ago and waited patiently since Bill Clinton’s first term in office for a new record, “Blank Project” proves well worth the lengthy anticipation.
Neneh Cherry ‘Blank Project’ Rating: W W W W W