Entertainment Music Music Advisor: Neneh Cherry’s Blank Project

Music Advisor: Neneh Cherry’s Blank Project

Neneh Cherry
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Neneh Cherry
Blank Project

Doug Wallen for STACK Magazine says: “Cult hero Neneh Cherry made a great showing with The Thing on 2012’s The Cherry Thing, but even its bold experimentation didn’t prepare us for her first solo album in 16 years. Backed by London duo RocketNumberNine with none other than Four Tet producing, Blank Project is eerily stripped-back and startlingly genre-less. Recorded and mixed over just five days, it swings from the tribal-industrial vibe of Naked to the overdriven growl of Weightless to proper rapping on the closing Everything. Robyn guests on Out of the Black, and Four Tet renders the whole album with an eerie vacantness. With just drums and synths comprising most tracks, all that open space sheds renewed light on Cherry’s silky delivery and frank, confessional, often defiant lyrics. It’s the rare kind of album where you’d be happy to hear an all-instrumental version or all-vocal version of it; put the two elements together and it’s an inspired act of alchemy. Fans of trip-hop and R&B are as likely to appreciate it as fans of post-punk and jazz, and there’s even a herky-jerky dance appeal to these skeletal late-night missives. Definitely one to take a chance on.” (4 Stars)

The Guardian says: “There are occasional flashes of her old pop self in her streetwise depiction of New York’s darker side that opens Everything, in the burst of rapping that erupts midway through Dossier, and in Naked’s warped take on electronic funk – but Cherry sounds utterly at home amid the album’s rattling live drums, played with a distinctly jazzy swing by Rocketnumbernine’s Tom Page, and propulsive low-end electronics courtesy of Page’s brother Ben, as well she might.” (4 Stars)

Pitchfork says: “Blank Project isn’t a roaring, triumphant return to form. Instead it’s understated to the extreme, a master class in the ways in which simple pleasures can become fascinatingly deep. The opening track, “Across the Water”, is simply Cherry singing over a bracingly austere drum arrangement, with zero in the way of melodic accompaniment. Between her rich, unembellished voice and emotional performance it’s somehow more overwhelming than most songs that have full orchestral backing.” (7.7/10)

NPR says: “By the time Cherry’s final line (“If everything is everything, good things comes to those who wait, they say”) trails off at the end of “Everything,” it’s easy to wonder whether she’s lost the resilient hope of youth. Maybe, if she ever had it — but what she’s gained in the meantime is way more interesting.”

And a little bit of nostalgia…