Published Feb 21, 2014Blank Project: On which we welcome Neneh Cherry back with a cup of tea rather than a party. The album is the artist's latest solo project, her first since the import Man was released back in 1996. Sparse, isolated beats dominate the ten-track affair; it shuffles along in parts, but drops enough dimes — "Weightless," "422" and "Out of the Black" (featuring Robyn) — to keep listeners engaged. Blank Project's minimalist approach (with Four Tet's production) flits about sideways across disparate pop, jazz, soul and electronica sounds. From a genre perspective, Cherry remains as difficult to define as ever: Is it post-punk? Trip-hop? Jazzy soul?
Cherry hasn't necessarily gotten better with age. Rather, she remains who she's always been: a paragon of consistency wielding a timeless WYSIWYG approach that feels throwback and ahead of its time, all at once. What has changed is that the themes touched on feel a bit more personal and maternal this time out: "Across the Water," for example, briefly touches on her mother's passing and her own motherhood. After 17 odd years of making solo albums, Neneh Cherry surfaces with the force of a jab rather than an uppercut. We appreciate the contact regardless. (Smalltown Supersound)