Editors' pick

N'dambi

Rhythm and Blues
'

Editorial Review

Wednesday show at Rams Head Tavern, $22.50, 410-268-4545. Friday show at Millennium Stage, Free, 202-467-4600.

Nancy Dunham reviewed "Pink Elephant" in Nov. 2009:

N'dambi may be a protege of the celebrated neo-soul artist Erykah Badu, but don't think she resides musically in the shadow of her mentor.

This Dallas native is a classic soul singer who arguably has more in common musically with the Jacksons, Smokey Robinson and Isaac Hayes.

On her major label debut, "Pink Elephant," N'dambi takes the lessons from traditional R&B and soul and mixes in just enough urban grit and sensuality to make the sound contemporary. The 12 tracks on the CD are written as short stories that tell age-old tales about personal struggles. Don't listen for the whimpering wronged woman in these tunes, though, because you won't find her.

N'dambi writes songs that center on empowered women confronting adversity and working to set it right.

Consider "Take It Out." N'dambi's soulful, emotionally charged vocals tell the story of a woman who fights to correct flaws in a tightly wound relationship that is close to unraveling.

Instrumentation is carefully woven around her vocals, keeping it crisp and bold. The same can be heard on the '80s-pop-influenced tune "L.I.E." and the jazz-tinged "Can't Hardly Wait."

This is one "Pink Elephant" fans of classic R&B and soul won't want to miss.