Malia – Black Orchid

Malia’s Black Orchid is pretty damn intriguing. She channels Billie Holiday’s lyricism and behind-the-beat singing to reinterpret Nina Simone’s classics. As a result, her renditions of sensitive songs, including “Four Women,” “Baltimore,” “I Love You Porgy” and “Wild is the Wind,” are dark, broody and intimate.

With the backing of the gentle, understated rhythm section, which consists of pianist, organist and vibraphonist Alexandre Saada, bassist and guitarist Jean-Daniel Botta and drummer Laurent Sériés, Malia uses her smoky contralto to its full effect. Her slow, sensual approaches to “If You Go Away,” “He Aint Comin’ Home No More” and even the mega “Feeling Good” are infectious.

“I Put a Spell on You” pretty much sums up the listening experience of Black Orchid as soon as the album begins and she ain’t lyin’.