Review: Meshell Ndegeocello

This tribute from one recording-industry maverick to another is a master class in paying homage while imbuing a classic set list with distinctive personality.
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MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO

POUR UNE ÂME SOUVER- AINE: A DEDICATION TO NINA SIMONE [Naïve]

This tribute from one recording-industry maverick to another is a master class in paying homage while imbuing a classic set list with distinctive personality. Armed with killer old-school Jazz Bass tone and a team of superlative co-conspirators, Meshell brings 21st-century production and an intimate, unhurried pace to these standards while keeping the spirit of the originals intact. Simone would be proud.

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Meshell’s prolific pen continues to astound on her latest. Few bass players so effectively balance extraordinary skill on the instrument with a genuinely artful and ambitious approach to composition, production, and concept. Unlike her past few efforts, Devil’s Halo is more substantially the product of human hands and less the result of extensive time in front of a sequencer. The record is as dynamic as ever, though, with alternately dreamy and ethereal tunes taking massive left-turns into aggressive go-go and punk. Ndegeocello’s playing and tone have evolved to encompass massive fluency in each style, and this engaging new record is appreciable on many levels. In short, it’s deep.

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