MISS RENEE SIMONE
To pull off a great soul album requires masterful execution and a wealth of personal experience to draw from, and true to Miss Renee Simone’s industrious branding, it’s a mood she maintains, if only just, in her debut LP, Roar.
The album begins on somewhat shaky ground, with some pop compositions that, while well-written, are uninspired and seem unsure, with vocals hovering awkwardly, somewhere between the floating delivery of early jazz and the solid structuring of contemporary soul. Particularly so with the curious inclusion of Top Shelf, which works as a textbook bossa nova while doing little to explore or expand upon the genre.
From then on, however, the album gets a bit braver, showcasing more intelligent, jazz-inspired melodies and visceral compositions, particularly so with You Are Beautiful. Simone’s vocals feel more true to form and unburdened, not to mention the band begins to feel like a feature, rather than a backing track. It’s a strong, well-executed album, but with a little more daring and exploration it might have been a great album.