Trying To Get To You

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Little Jackie: The Stoop

Imani Coppola is one of those names I've been hearing in the ether for years, but I haven't bumped into her music until her new album, The Stoop, a collaboration with DJ/producer/programmer Adam Pallin that's under the moniker Little Jackie. It's an enjoyable album, filled with fun, smarts and sass (if you read the reviews of Imani's music, "sass" seems to come up a lot), but it's missing that certain something that would make it great.

Little Jackie may have emerged as concept in the wake of Amy Winehouse's success and the "soul revival," (there's an obvious debt to Gnarls Barkley here as well) and by Coppola's own admission, it's designed to "get her back to the center." But Coppola's orientation is much more bohemian folkie than it is soul diva, so you can still hear the strain of anti-commercialism (and more than a touch of arrogance) that has been a noted feature of Coppola's personality. For Coppola, making a record that is actually commercial would be slumming - so Little Jackie is her compromise.

So the album is filled with incisive and sharp lyrics and music that has touches of 60's and 70's soul, while retaining its modernity. (Fortunately, the music is not a exact recreation of 60's soul, a la the Dap-Kings.) "The World Should Revolve Around Me" is a sometimes hilarious admission of her own self-centerdness and "The Stoop" is a statement of pride of her native Brooklyn that follows the tradition of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish." But never on the album does Coppola express anything that actually makes her seem vulnerable - and vulnerability is one of the keys to great soul. Nor does the music ever reach the level of truly unforgettable - the songs are good, but not quite good enough. Next time, if Coppola can reach down deeper within herself, give up her opinions about what being commercial is, write about really matters to her and express it in a way that resonates beyond the bohemian, she might actually reach the level of artistry she's always aspired to. And she'd probably be far more successful commercially, too.


Philip Clark said...

Imani is not only phenomenally talented, she's awesome people. Hope she blows up with this one. I heard a single on KCRW last week on Garth Trinidad's show. Great stuff.

Eric said...

hi...i recommend checking out Imani's most recent solo album, "The Black & White Album." it's much more eclectic and personal than the Little Jackie stuff (which is a cool, but clear bid for some mainstream success).

Anonymous said...

I thought she was from Long Island though...either way, I love it...

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