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Nina Simone: Baltimore

Jim Santella By

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Nina Simone was called "The High Priestess of Soul." We remember her for the eclectic approach she applied to pop music and the emotion she poured into her music every time out. While Baltimore wasn't among her most memorable projects, it does offer a clear picture of the artist's spirit. This reissue provides an opportunity for collectors to secure a sampling of her lesser-known material.

Folk, pop, reggae, and gospel all come together on one program where Simone pours out her heart. "Music for Lovers" provides the album's best view of her persona. She opens the ballad piece alone with piano, singing a universal message. Strings then proceed to surround her and wrap up the piece with higher emotions.

Lighter pop songs such as "Rich Girl," "Baltimore," and "The Family" give the session a comfortable texture. There's a lot to like. Country, folk, and soul verify Simone's propensity for eclecticism. Rich ballads like "Everything Must Change" and "That's All I Want from You" reveal a deeper side of the artist. However, it's here, in these more somber moments, that her performance begins to wane. Simone was not happy with the album. Her emotions belie a ho-hum feeling through the soulful "Forget" and the session's slower ballads.

The album closes with an emotional "If You Pray Right" that revives things and picks up a performance that had begun to sag. The mood rises just in time to save the session and give it a special place on the collector's shelf for posterity.


Track Listing: Baltimore; Everything Must Change; The Family; My Father; Music for Lovers; Rich Girl; That's All I Want from You; Forget; Balm in Gilead; If You Pray Right.

Personnel: Nina Simone- vocal, keyboards; Al Schackman- piano, tambourine; David Matthews- piano; Eric Gale, Jerry Friedman- guitar; Gary King, Will Lee- bass; Jim Madison, Andy Newmark- drums; Nicky Marrero- percussion.

Title: Baltimore | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: CTI Records


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