BY APRIL S. ENGRAM
The eclectic singer’s last solo album was 1996’s Man but she has continued to make music and collaborate with other musicians sporadically throughout the years from Gorillaz to Kleerup to, most recently, fellow Swedes The Thing. (Read about that collaboration here.) Electronica runs through Blank Project and its creation involves several individuals who specialize in the genre: produced by Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet, it features collaborations with Robyn and duo RocketNumberNine.
The raw, mellow, hip-hop, electronic, jazz infused solo return of Neneh Cherry is an enjoyable ride; some songs are immediately addictive while others slowly become more appealing after several listens and sonic osmosis. A duet with fellow Swedish pop singer Robyn sounds promising in theory but “Out of the Black” is not the most enthralling number yet title track “Blank Project” is easily the strongest number with a heavy drum and bass that pulls you in, escalates the pulsating beats and induces dancing. The remaining splendor of Project rest in its sparse simplicity; songs such as opener “Across the Water,” or “422” quietly demonstrates this with very few instruments, only the occasional hand drum, organ and plucky as Cherry’s semi-raspy vocals carries each song.
The lyricism isn’t always profound; the strongest component to Blank Project is the far from ordinary music. But there are moments when Cherry’s down to earth style proves vastly entertaining. In “Everything” Cherry maps a day that starts perfectly but slowly crumbles and she casually sings “a crack smoking hussy getting in my way too.”
Blank Project is equally unique, familiar and proves inviting in its soulful solidarity.
DOWNLOAD: “Everything,” “Blank Project”