Full of quirky narratives, mellow, semijagged riffs and an overall bucolic vibe, Olu Dara's "Neighborhoods" seems like a slice of life from his Natchez, Miss., roots filtered through New York's East Village. At times it's a little African, especially in the lyrics that seem like parables. At times it's a little bit funky. But mostly this work is rooted in the blues, a latter-day Lightnin' Hopkins. Dara is the father of rapper Nas, and although his career has spanned some 35 years (mostly playing free-jazz trumpet), he never recorded as a leader until his late 50s.
Dr. John and Cassandra Wilson each make guest appearances, but in very unobtrusive ways. This recording is Olu Dara up front and natural.