Meshell Ndegeocello – Comet, Come to Me (Naïve Records. NV831111. CD Review by Rob Mallows
Meshell Ndegeocello is a singular talent who, in the words of the press release “has made sojourns into a whole range of musical genres: soul, jazz, R’n’B, hip-hop, rock and spoken word.” Her eleventh album Comet, Come to Me lies very much on the border of R’n’B and jazz and is, judging by online reaction from fans and critics, something of a return to form for the American singer-songwriter, rapper, bassist, and vocalist. It’s an album she describes as “a labour of love”.
Ndegeocello collaborates with a range of special guests: singers Shara Worden and Doyle Bramhall, as well as her long-time band-mate guitarist Chris Bruce. It offers a range of styles and moods, and it certainly is a great showcase for Ndegeocello’s soulful voice.
I found some tracks got stuck in laborious R’n’B grooves, and also that some of the slow, ethereal soundscapes outstayed their welcome. Nevertheless, there’s plenty here to lift the spirit, in particular tracks like opener Friends, a jazz/hip-hop crossover track which is her soulful take on Whodini’s eighties original, with guitar taking over the insistent electronic riff of the original hit that kicks off the album with a repetitive lyrical groove around the idea of friendship. Modern Time is packed full of the rhythmic bounce and groove that characterises Ndegeocello’s bass playing. Shopping for Jazz is modern pop/rock with a slight country twist, and far from the jazz suggested in the title, but it’s nevertheless rather uplifting and hummable. The most personal – and the least jazz-oriented – track is American Rhapsody, which is eerily simple and rather hypnotic, and a cool way to end the album.