November 18, 2010

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IMartina Topley-Bird, Some Place Simple
Honest Jon's/Ipecac Records, Oct. 19

Apparently feeling somehow artistically indebted to non-techie shy-chicks like Norah Jones (Topley-Bird’s voice, if you haven’t heard her work elsewhere, such as on this year’s Heligoland LP from Massive Attack, is a direct cross between Jones and Sia), this multi-instrumentalist and former weirdy-beardy squeeze of Tricky has teamed up with mystery percussionist Ninja to folk-up her back catalog of trip-hop chill. Previously released things (mainly pulled from her 2008 LP Blue God) are re-imagined here in the form of Zero 7-like afterthoughts, with “Dadada,” for example, being stripped down to dandelion-puffs of toy-piano whimsy, and “Lying” (from her debut LP) submerged in organ-blooping. That’s all nice and stuff, very Corinne Bailey Rae, but in the end she’s known for irresistibly dank urban stuff, thus her fans could be quite put off by all this. There are four new songs included on this U.S. version, including the Zero-7-ish “Orchids,” but it’s tough to tell if that’s the best thing to result from these sessions — the story of this girl’s solo life thus far has been a rap that her import versions “far surpass” the U.S. versions, an annoyingly hip peccadillo in the eyes of fans who appreciate a little consistence when they pay money for audio products. B- —Eric W. Saeger