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Questography - Candice Ivory (self-released)

Candice Ivory's new quest leads down several roads.

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This second release from Memphis-bred singer Candice Ivory is quite a departure from her 2003 debut, Path -- Undefined. That album hinted at other directions but was rooted in jazz and neo-soul. On Questography, Ivory sets aside the acoustic jazz flavor of her debut for a full plunge into electronic music, with lots of synth and programmed drums.

The result showcases Ivory's studio skills (she produced the record) as much as her acumen as singer or songwriter, demonstrating a deft touch for a diverse array of sonic settings: "Always" and "Believe" are moody slices of what was once called trip-hop. The live drums and driving guitar of "New Shows" is new wave akin to what Prince was doing in the early 1980s. "Bye" is a sing-along-worthy dip into neo-soul. And the record continues to push boundaries with the tough rock of "Go Bone" and the drum-n-bass beats of "Affirmation" and "Questography."

That Ivory sounds totally at home with each and every one of these styles is a testament to a ferocious natural musicality. It remains to be seen if she'll ever settle into a specific genre, but Ivory has made it clear that she's much more than the soul/jazz singer she once seemed to be.

Grade: A-

Candice Ivory plays two CD-release shows for Questography this weekend at Café Soul, Friday, March 18th, and Saturday, March 19th. Each night's performance begins at 8 p.m.

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