N'Dambi, "Pink Elephant"

4.5

Singer/songwriter N'Dambi has been a darling of the indie-soul movement since the release of her 1999 debut, "Little Lost Girls Blues." With the arrival of her major-label debut, "Pink Elephant," the mainstream audience can finally hear her gut-rousing brand of soul. A former backup singer for Erykah Badu, N'Dambi possesses a rich, earthy voice that grabs the listener from the very first note. Coupled with lyrics that keenly observe life's frequent ironies, her vocals add a striking depth to each song. Helping the singer pleasingly bridge her contemporary and classic soul influences is R&B veteran Leon Sylvers. Whether discoursing on pursuing your dreams ("Nobody Jones"), reaffirming the bonds of love ("What It Takes") or sarcastically bemoaning the inability to sever a bad relationship ("Can't Hardly Wait"), N'Dambi proves that she's every bit the real deal-one of the talented few who can truly make the listener feel a song. --Gail Mitchell