Fodder on My Wings
Verve brought this obscure late-career gem to digital release after years of sporadic availability. It finds Simone in a creatively produced setting with France-based musicians, including the noted drummer Paco Sery. Though it begins with the emotional high of “I Sing Just to Know That I’m Alive,” replete with groovy horn-section riffing, the album conveys a certain sadness, particularly in the doleful “Fodder in Her Wings” with its intriguing textures of marimba, harpsichord, piano, and electric bass. There were less than happy circumstances that led Simone to expatriate to Liberia, Switzerland, and France, and the autobiographical element surfaces again and again here on the wry “Liberian Calypso” and “Le peuple en Suisse,” not to mention Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again Naturally” (with Simone’s stark new lyrics). There’s perhaps an echo of “See-Line Woman” in the bluesy, hypnotic vamp structure of “Vous etes seuls, mais je désire etre avec vous.” And the stripped-down, acoustic quasi-reggae of “Il y a un baume à Gilead” stands in vivid contrast to the dreamier, electric piano-based English version (“Balm in Gilead”) from her 1978 release, Baltimore.