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New Moon Daughter (1995)

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Cassandra Wilson

Singer Cassandra Wilson, who has had a rather diverse career that has ranged from the free funk of M-Base to standards à la Betty Carter, has in recent times adopted a folk-oriented style a little reminiscent of Nina Simone. On New Moon Daughter her repertoire ranges from U2 to Son House, from Hoagy Carmichael to Hank Williams ("I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"); it is certainly the only album ever that contains both the Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville" and "Strange Fruit." This CD is a surprise best-seller, for Wilson's voice actually sounds quite bored and emotionally detached. She deserves great credit for stretching herself, but one has to dig deep to find any warmth in her overly cool approach. ~ Scott Yanow