Reading reviews of the new Adele CD, there is frequently mention of Massive Attack and the great vocalist Shara Nelson. She's been long absent from her post in the 1990's as the elegant queen of new ambient Brit soul, but her music still sounds great 15 - wow! - years later.
Shara was discovered in 1991 by Massive Attack, who gave her the lead on their trip-hoppy mood piece Unfinished Sympathy [ed: it literally took my dumb ass 2 years to realize that song was not called Unfinished Symphony!]. Watch the video - it's one of the finest songs of the nineties.
She followed up with a near perfect solo debut in 1993 called What Silence Knows - this is the kind of album you can find on Amazon Marketplace for a song, which is a travesty because it's brilliant. Nobody is an excellent song for the iPod age - music for stomping over pissants! Down That Road evokes pride, personal freedom, etc etc in a catchy, thoroughly contemporary pop soul song. Her collaborators reveal her willingness to take chances: PM Dawn, Paul Oakenfeld, Tim Simenon, Bomb TheBass, Saint Etienne, Mike Peden and David Arnold, among others.
Shara's second album, 1995's Friendly Fire, was edgier, but not quite up to snuff and really only had one track I truly liked, After You. She reappeared on David Arnold's 1999 James Bond tribute CD with a sparkling, pure cover of Moonraker.
Since the 90's there has been very little heard from Shara. It appears she has recorded a new track called Go That Deep with a group called NUfrequency (watch a teaser). Her website is a bit out of date, but does offer up a free MP3 called If. Meanwhile, her contemporaries Portishead are about to launch their first album in years, so a new one from Shara would be welcome by many...