Nina Simone
High Priestess of Soul


4.5
superb

Review

by Tb1114 USER (9 Reviews)
August 4th, 2019 | 22 replies


Release Date: 1967 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Nina at her eclectic best.

Spoilers, this album ranks among Nina’s best. It's on the same mantle as Pastel Blues, …Sings the Blues, I Put a Spell on You, and Wild is the Wind. Out of her best albums, however, “High Priestess of Soul” absolutely ranks as the least homogenous. On “High Priestess…” one will experience an array of – yes, soul - but pop, swing, folk, blues, jazz, gospel and spiritual. In any other hands, this stark variance of genre would merely become hodgepodge.

With Nina, however, she transcended the archetype of popular multi-faceted, wide-appeal vocal talent (Flack, Franklin, Vaughn, etc.). Maybe it’s her vibrant activist spirit, or her sheer ability to convey her turmoil through immaculate contralto, but something about Nina’s musicianship reveals incomparable sincerity. And on "High Priestess" you will come to know with brazen sincerity the flame which sparks Nina's heart.

The centerpiece of this album, Simone’s own “Take Me to the Water,” is a whirlwind of gospel trope. The lyrical content (Nina praying to be baptized) is simplistic and limited – but that trope simplicity acts as a foil to the absolute authenticity of her vocal performance; when you hear Nina calling out to be baptized, you feel her repentance. You experience her life of trial, folly, hope, redemption, of humility following pride, of God following flesh.

Up to this point in the album, the standards of her era supply us excellent Berry, Ellington, and Bobby Scott tunes. Tunes about love lost, love trusted, love lusted, and love scorched. All these are accompanied by varying styles; all genuine, all catchy, all endearing. But for a brief moment Simone puts fleshly love on hold. “Take Me to the Water” has seen your life’s accumulating momentum of labor, romance, leisure, toil, civic interconnectedness and puts it all to halt. You are with Truth now. You were always with Truth – that previous enumeration was not figment – but now you are finally apart from all of the absolute bullsh*t.

Once this brief moment is over, seamlessly Simone has redeemed herself a joyous exclamation made by someone saved: “I’m Going Back Home.” We are back on Earth. We have seen God, and now we - with pride - take claim to our toil. All is well, even when we suffer. Even when the rest of the album bears songs that will break your heart, or break your back.

Nina can put on a performance, but when it’s time to cut the sh*t, she does so with tact. This is what you will find on this album: A spectrum of pop and human emotion; an enjoyable, well-done foray into the styles of the era and prior; a varied hand held by one of the greatest players. “Greatest” because when Truth asked her to fold, she set down her hand in absolute humility.

4.3/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
brainmelter
August 4th 2019


8241 Comments


Duuuuude nice
dumb this didn’t have a review till now

Tb1114
August 4th 2019


719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you

& Yeah. Yeah. NS is a legend. This is by far my favorite album of hers, but I'd like to fill in her db on here a little more. Classic albums are being left unreviewed lol

Trifolium
August 4th 2019


38524 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

''but something about Nina’s musicianship reveals incomparable sincerity'' [2] so hard.

Thanks for reviewing this. She's one of the all time greatest artists imo, crazy that this didn't have a review yet.

DadKungFu
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2019


4536 Comments


Pastel Blues is my favorite soul album of all time, can't wait to check this.

Tb1114
August 5th 2019


719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for enjoying it Trif!

@DadKF, This is really good but expect something very different from Pastel Blues. I think this is my favorite NS bc it encompasses so many genres and does it well. Whereas most of her other classics I strictly need to be in a bluesy or jazzy mood.

"I'm Gonna Leave You" "Take Me To the Water/I'm Going Back Home" and "I Hold No Grudge" are my absolute highlights. The only track I'm not super hot on is "Come Ye," which is unfortunate bc it's a Simone original. But other than that I absolutely adore this album.

Trifolium
October 16th 2019


38524 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Bump for this amazing woman, Nina all day every day.

Trifolium
January 30th 2020


38524 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'm Gonna Leave You is sooooo gooooood.

Thanks Nina!

NorthernSkylark
May 2nd 2020


12134 Comments


Bookmarked.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
May 2nd 2020


16419 Comments


i just got recd nina today in my real life. i’ve only heard ‘i put a spell on you’ so far but it’s gonna be on repeat for a whileeee i think. anyway is there anyone on sput stanning for nina rn? where KILL

Trifolium
May 2nd 2020


38524 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nina is perhaps my fave musician of all time. If I had to pick just one, it'd be her.

NorthernSkylark
May 3rd 2020


12134 Comments


High praise, she's certainly one of the best artists also blessed with a blissfull voice

Trifolium
May 3rd 2020


38524 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I know, very high praise. I think it must be her though. Picking just one is impossible of course, and you'll always miss other groups and artists, but Nina's discog is so diverse and immense, and she did so many styles so very well that I'd least regret picking her, haha.

Bedex
May 3rd 2020


3133 Comments


this is a great album

Trifolium
June 5th 2020


38524 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'M GOING BACK HOME!!!

Where I was born!!!!!



This is a very great album.

Bedex
June 5th 2020


3133 Comments


such a tune that track

Trifolium
June 5th 2020


38524 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeeessss.

NorthernSkylark
October 23rd 2020


12134 Comments


Gonna check before i go back home

Trifolium
October 24th 2020


38524 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

That is a very wise decision 💚

wildinferno2010
October 24th 2020


1844 Comments


Cool review, this sounds interesting. I've never really looked into Nina Simone, I'll check this out

Trifolium
October 24th 2020


38524 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The journey of a life time. She's done so much and covered so much ground. An incredible artist.



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