When it comes to longevity, N'dambi is a soul songstress who has stood the test of time. Her 1999 debut, Little Lost Girls Blues, set the course for her extraordinary career as an indie artist--gaining international attention without the major label budget. Ten years and three albums later, N'dambi is now a part of the legendary Stax Records imprint. Her highly anticipated fourth LP, Pink Elephant, is a collection of real-life stories smothered in a heavy blend of soul, funk, blues and rock.
When I heard the lead single, "Can't Hardly Wait," I knew this album was strictly for grown folks. Lyrics like, "I don't know why I keep f***ing with you,"
speaks to fed-up women all over the world while sending a warning to
wayward fellas. There's an overall mystique of mature subjects laid
over a vintage sound produced by Leon Sylvers III, the man who produced hits for Shalamar, The Whispers and Gladys Knight in the '70s and '80s.
has fluttering pianos and a tight drum kit holding N'dambi's soulful
tale of discovering the man she loved is not what she thought. Its
gospel feel mixed with a Memphis blues guitar will have you snapping
your fingers involuntarily. The bass line in "Daisy Chain" helps
N'dambi to channel the Staples Singers as the blues and funk energy comes out to play.
As part of the Stax revolution, she does an incredible hat tip to Isaac Hayes'
"Walk on By" with her single, "The One." You can truly feel the Stax
influence on this sultry track full of wah-wah guitar licks and live
drums interwoven with N'dambi's intoxicating harmony. "Free Falling"
sounds as if it came straight from a '60s time capsule and seems more
outdated than reminiscent. You quickly forget this misstep as the
majority of the album is sexy, groovy and jam-packed with sass.
N'dambi: "The One"
N'dambi's storytelling ventures from introspective musings to outcries
of frustration. "Mind Blowing" speaks to her love interest, while
"L.I.E." breaks down a fable of infidelity for us soul children to
listen and learn.
Overall, Pink Elephant
cannot be ignored. It is undoubtedly one of the strongest album
releases in 2009. I highly recommend it as a must-have part of your
personal soundtrack. N'dambi's voice, combined with the classic Stax
sound and stellar lyrics, converge to form a soulful project destined
for heavy rotation at clubs, soul music lounges and house parties
across the globe.