The neo-soul subgenre has been along long enough to have what some might consider "forgotten" artists. These are artists who were categorized as neo-soul back in the late 1990s, released critically acclaimed albums but then washed out when tastes changed or upheavals occurred at the labels during the early part of this decade. Then, someone mentions a name or you see a video on YouTube, and you realize that the featured artist is someone whose career is worth reconsidering and hopefully other music fans will come to the same conclusion.
Adriana Evans is such an artist. Evans released her self-titled first album in 1997, which is the year after Maxwell dropped Urban Hang Suite and the same year that Erykah Badu released Baduizm, so Evans was there in the halcyon days when people like me hoped neo-soul would become a movement that would change the record industry and perhaps even the culture writ large. Well, we all know how that went. The labels couldn't turn this music around quick enough for the executives' liking because these artists actually wanted to make - you know - art. The industry went back to churning out cookie cutter artists making echo chamber music. A few neo-soul artists continue to make music that the public eagerly awaits and buys (see Maxwell).
SoulTrackers know that most neo-soul artists continued working - writing, touring and putting out albums. That has certainly been the case with Evans, who has released three other records since Adriana Evans dropped in 1997. One of them, her solid 2004 effort Nomadic, has just been reissued.
Nomadic is a record that reminds listeners what they like about subgenre that some label neo-soul. Evans is not an artist who is going to remain in the same place she was in 1997. She wants the freedom to explore new sounds, merging the soul that made her famous with blues and funk ("Something"), rock and funk ("7 Days'), Latin ("I Had a Dream"/"Remember the Love")sounds and jazz ("Morning Light".)
Evans is concerned with affairs of the heart on Nomadic, but she is one of the artists who explores love in all of its complexities, and she is unafraid to explore the love's not so pleasant underbelly ("Cold as Ice").
Vocally, Nomadic shows that Evans matured greatly in the seven years that lapsed between her debut and this particular CD. She handles the varying tempos with a ease of a seasoned veteran that makes she makes the transition from dreamy chanteuse on the interlude "Midnight in Bahia " to the blues and rock screamer and growler on "7 Days."
I admit that I had forgotten about Evans prior to be assigned this review, and had to go to YouTube to do some research. I found myself saying, â€˜hey, I remember that!' as I listened to tracks from Adriana Evans." This reissue brings the nomad to my computer and iPod. I think she's found a home. Recommended.
By Howard Dukes