Rita di Ghent The Birth of Sprawl

Rita di Ghent is a woman of many voices. She scats jazz, speaks in poetry and plays hip to rap. Her flexibility in these different genres is admirable, but it's not always enjoyable. She can definitely sing, but when she slips into less melodic modes, her voice lacks the same soul. On "Jazz Habit," she makes an attempt at MC Lyte's "Paper Thin," and makes her case as a woman whose independence comes before any of her relationships with men. Feminist attitudes like this are prominent throughout the disc, and it's cool knowing that, but these polemics often sound uninteresting, let alone unmusical, when their delivery is flat as it is on this track. The problem ultimately is that di Ghent loves the grooviness of jazz, rap and poetry, but hasn't found a way make her personality sound just as fun. The band has a lot more character by comparison, especially with David Restivo on the keys and 2Rude on the funky breaks. But putting di Ghent's vocal performances aside, she definitely does have a gift for writing clever lyrics. Like on "Signs of Spring in My Neighborhood," when she muses on the sight of withered condoms containing withered lusts, disappearing by the time the afternoon sun hits the streets. “They were,” she sings, "gone just like the love at the time they were put on." If di Ghent can find a way to immerse this wit with the vibes around her, her future projects will be really interesting. (Groove)