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Mina Agossi: Well You Needn’t

Born in France to African parents, the exotic Mina Agossi, who appears barely out of her teens, sometimes suggests a retro Ute Lemper vibe. It’s there in her starkly aggressive “Why Don’t You Do Right?” and in a spellbinding a capella “After You’ve Gone.” Another time, on the salty, self-penned “Laundry Man Blues,” she hints at the double-entendre sauciness of the mid-’50s Dinah Washington. But the balance of the album sounds, with the exception of the chillingly urgent “Drive,” like postmillennial caterwauling of a tabby with its tail caught in a door-or more accurately, a scratchy Victrola recording of a tabby with its tail caught in a door.

In my assessment, her screeching Patty Waters-ness achieves utter spoilage of both Hendrix (“Voodoo Chile”) and Monk (the title track). Then again, I’m fortysomething. Maybe the twentysomethings out there will find plenty to admire about cacophonous exercises in atonality like “Don’t Look at Me” or “Ghost of Yesterday” (avid Agossi fan Jamie Cullum seems to) but will find nothing special about the gentle bleat of “After You’ve Gone.”

Originally Published