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NTW - Meshell Ndegeocello

6/18/2014

Meshell Ndegeocello, 'Comet, Come to Me'
Rating: 
"Comet, Come to Me," like "Devil's Halo," involves a cover of a hit released during Meshell Ndegeocello's teenage years. Having ignited Ready for the World's 1985 slow jam "Love You Down," placed in the middle of her 2009 album, she boldly begins here with a cold-blooded update of Whodini's "Friends" that swirls and pierces. It sets the tone for 11 originals that are largely subdued but fraught with assorted forms of heartache and internal discomfort -- unresolved grievances, somber resolutions, candid confrontations. Backed mostly by superhuman drummer Earl Harvin and long-term keyboardist Jebin Bruni, with less frequent contributions from Chris Bruce, My Brightest Diamond, Amp Fiddler, and Doyle Bramhall, among others, the album plays out like a continuation of "Devil's Halo" and 2011's "Weather," with well-defined and uncluttered songs that have subtle and artful touches and twists. Lyrically, this is Ndegeocello at her rawest. In the hushed desert blues of "Good Day Bad," she reveals, "I am haunted late at night and no one cares to ask me how I feel/My only friend's my flask," then notes "Wish I knew my momma, wish I could forgive my dad." Not even the three songs anchored in throbbing reggae rhythms -- "Forget My Name," the title track, and "Modern Time" -- evoke emotional ease, as Ndegeocello's verses hinge on words like slaughter, pretending, and thrashing. During the album's latter half, a pair of career highlights are set back to back. The rolling "Conviction" is a dismissal delivered casually, almost sweetly, while "Folie a Deux," accented with a soft vibraphone refrain, opens with an offhanded "Don't be sentimental, call me hateful and cold/I just don't love you no more." Somewhat benevolently, "American Rhapsody" acts as a relatively restful finale. While listeners will have to wait a little longer for a break in the clouds, Ndegeocello and her associates have soundtracked yet another emotional storm in vivid, enthralling fashion. -- Andy Kellman, All Music Guide.

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