Music: Wholly Earth: Abbey Lincoln

Abbey Lincoln

Lincoln may be jazz's most prolific singer-songwriter, having penned seven out of 10 songs here, some of which even have pop-worthy melodies (this is meant as a compliment; her lyrics, on the other hand, tend toward metaphysical goofiness). But the voice is why you should care. As if she is still stung by decades-old criticisms that she's not a "true" jazz singer, Lincoln's phrasing can sound eccentric, even perverse, yet few vocalists can rival her ability to convey pure emotion--by turns rueful, reflective and exultant. She has been on a roll in the '90s and shows no signs of stopping.

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