Earlier this week I was reading the latest issue of Elle magazine with Rihanna on the cover and was totally struck by her style, stance and sound. She’s got flavor for days, problem is, when it comes to her vocal ability she kinda comes up short. I sat back and imagined how awesome it would be if Riri could really sing. Then on Thursday I popped in a CD by a singer named Kimberly Nichole and I no longer had to imagine. The CD, The Yellow Brick Journey, is what “Good Girl Gone Bad” and “Rated R” could’ve been if Rihanna could blow (and actually if she wrote her own songs). The CD opens with “Wishes In The Dark” a throbbing punkadelic affair that rocks hard and teases tough. It’s Disturbia with bones, soul and flesh. “Johnny Come Lately” and “Little Girl New” prove this Spelman alum not only got deep into her studies while in the ATL. You can hear Andre 3000, Janelle Monae and Joi all up in these stunners. They bump, bite and bake with the best of boogie. Horns that holla and hiss, revival tent hand clapping and Grambling Marching Band stomping and swaying. Thrilling like the pull of jumping porgies on the hook of a tight fishing line!
Toward the end though I felt like Kimberly may have run out of steam with “For The Looking Ones” and “Carnival.” “For The Looking Ones” features an auto-tune riff from the theme song of Miami Vice and “Carnival” was cotton candy fluff. It felt more old and passé than retro. It’s pop-rock candy sensibility didn’t connect with the farm fresh funktastic feel of the previous songs. But girlfriend brings it back home with “Disconnected.” If Gwen Stefani were ever asked to re-interpret Mary J.’s “My Life” then it would sound like “Disconnected.” Reeling with the somberness of Corey Glover’s “April Rain” and the melancholy of Prince’s “Purple Rain,” the title track “The Yellow Brick Journey” really captures the persona and sound that is Kimberly Nicole. It’s grits and grace. Studs and spirit.
Kimberly Nichole was the cute fly ‘froed chick that waited tables in Harlem at Il Caffe Latte as recently as last year, but today she is co-headlining the Weeksville Music Series with Shabazz Palaces at 6pm and on August 19 she’ll be at NJPAC’s Theater Square. If you are in the NYC area please stop by. Both shows are free and bound to be fun! Bring your tambourine!