Published Oct 02, 2015The term "renaissance woman" doesn't do jessica Care moore (Editor's note: yes, it's stylized that way) justice. Over the last two decades, the Detroit-bred poet has established herself as one of the premier figures on the spoken word circuit, winning the televised Showtime At The Apollo Amateur Night five times in a row, performing with the likes of Patti Labelle and Nikki Giovanni and appearing on Nas's Nastradamus and Talib Kweli's Attack the Block mixtape while her self-owned company has published books by Ras Baraka and Saul Williams.
Arriving via Kweli's Javotti Media, moore's debut adds to her impressive credentials. Across 15 cuts, she demonstrates an impeccable sense of poetic timing and drama as well as a compelling, musically diverse backdrop. "Walking Up 158th St." and "Pieces" are vibrant performances flavoured with a sense of jazz classicism, explored particularly on the lush "You Want Poems" featuring Roy Ayers and Jose James. "We die for the blues because we're born with it," moore declares on "It Ain't Like We Don't," as nouveau bluesman Paris James adds some stinging guitar licks. Ideeyah's vocal curlicues are the only accompaniment on "Wild Irish Rose," and Talib Kweli drops by on the vibrant, hip-hop-flavoured "Catch Me If You Can."
Yet moore is never upstaged by the guest appearances; her wordplay is front and centre, forming a cohesive thread that never feels impersonal or didactic and demands repeat listening, especially given her extensive lexicon. Why it took over 20 years for jessica Care moore to wax poetic on full-length vinyl is anyone's guess, but Black Tea: The Legend Of Jessi James was definitely worth the wait. (Javotti Media/Words on Wax)