Meshell Ndegeocello - Okayplayer

Meshell Ndegeocello

Vocalist Meshell Ndegeocello is one of those singers who could sing anything and it would sound great.  The sultry tone of her voice, mixed with her hushed, breathy  vocals–oozing with sensuality–could captivate even the most skeptical music listener.  With her new album, Weather, the vocalist does a beautiful job of engaging listeners and leaving them anxious for the next song.

That suspense is real; the lack of any obvious progression or sequence, album-wise, is what has always made Ndegeocello a standout.  Looking at the albums in her discography–the introductory Plantation Lullabies, the soulful Peace Beyond Passion, and the hip-hop/spoken word hybrid Cookie–listeners never know what to expect. Which makes Weather a little different.  On this album, there is a sense of familiarity with the material as it feels like a sort of merger of her two previous albums–Bitter and Devil’s Halo–with a clearly visible evolution to the person she is today.

“Weather”–the opener as well as the title track–sets the tone for what listeners can expect throughout the rest of the album: sensuality and great lyrics.  “Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear,” has a great string section that introduces the song and continues throughout.  The song essentially speaks of heartbreak and memories and the lyrics are really quite beautiful and relatable: “Over the bridge through the park/ Another lonely night/ I used to be so in love with you/ I think about you everyday when I loiter on your doorstep to memories.”   Following suit with a similar yearning vibe, the next song is “Feeling For The Wall,” which again has great lyrics: “I want to take you just like laughter/ Breaks apart like bread / scatter them out here after / and follow you like a threat / you’re so within me and see me like you do / and I remember what I’m sure/ What I’m sure I owe you.”

From a production standpoint, “Chance” sounds different than everything before it on the album—it’s more of an upbeat tone to match the optimistic message of the song. Ndegeocello’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel,” which it’s rumored was written for the iconic Janis Joplin, is a beautiful addition to the album.  Ndegeocello switches up the slow ballad, making it a little faster but just as passionate. The production on “A Bitter Mule, in conjunction with the gentle and deep vocals as well as the lyrics, make this song a definite highlight. Lastly, “Don’t Take My Kindness For Weakness,” has extremely beautiful lyrics and a beautiful delivery that only Ndegeocello could do.

Weather is a beautiful album and the most intimate project we’ve heard from Ndegeocello in the last few years.  The political essence which fueled previous projects is traded in for a sense of vulnerability, making this one of Ndegeocello’s most personal albums.  Definitely, a must have.

-Erin Duncan






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