Category Archives: Meshell Ndegeocello

Devil’s Halo – MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO – 2009

This is 19 years from the last album of Meshell that I reviewed. 19 years….that’s a long time. Since then we have had the internet take over our lives, 9/11, the fall and fall of Michael Jackson, the biggest selling films of all time, the biggest natural disasters in a long time and what not. Yet Meshell‘s music is curiously unevolved. Yes, there is a bigger electronica element, and the tones of the instruments are generally much more metallic. All this helps on the fast songs, especially the very enjoyable “Lola”. But frankly, thats the only interesting song I find on this album. There are a flat spots even in the slower songs, like “Mass Transit”.

Meshell‘s music is curiously unevolved since Bitter

Its good to add more dynamics in terms of speed, but if it is only done at an intellectual level, it ruins the effect. On this album, for instance, most of the fast and slow songs are alternating in the running order. Why, exactly? That might look good on paper, but it throws the listener off balance, especially when none of the songs are actually that strong. As a result, the relatively plodding Bitter is a good egg compared to this.
In terms of musical style, I’d say this album is basically an R n B album with a fire up its chuff. That means faster rhythms, occasional reggae feels, like in “White Girls”, slightly incongruous electronic sounds on occasion, but an overall very modern feel. The production, too, is impeccable. But it still remembers to slow down (on every alternate track), and have the usual finger-clickery and woe-is-me-wallowing-in-sadness which sometimes becomes a bit of a parody of the whole RnB genre itself.

Ok, I think I have described this album enough. I need to come clean. I don’t like this album. Period. There is too much going on. Too much arrangement, too little by way of hooks or melodies that catch my ear. And mind you, I don’t pass this verdict whimsically, I’ve heard this two times over, and carefully, before saying this. Simply, this does’nt sound right.

- El Bajista

More MESHELL reviews HERE.

More RnB reviews HERE.


Meshell Ndegeocello – BITTER – 1999

Meshell Ndegeocello. Eyebrow raising name isn’t it? Well, here’s something else you ought to know; she has had ten Grammy nominations. TEN!! Clearly, this seems like something we should all be listening to. And after my first listen, I declare: It certainly is. It’s smooth and soulful R n’ B for those who prefer to weep quietly than scream their angst to the world, for those who think that emotions are to be dealt with dignity and those who think that music can be enjoyed equally whether its fast or slow.

Anyway, the first track “Adam” is basically a horn and string section with some drums which, rather appropriately, sounds bitter. It’s also highly reminiscent of the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack. Moving on, Meshell’s voice is mainly very breathy, perhaps only in this album to fit its generally dark and introspective tone. It has tons of soul, but it’s not particularly unique. It’s somewhere near the top of the category of voices exemplified by Tracy Chapman: earthy, breathy, quiet and honest. Her singing also makes the lyrics easily discernible, as opposed to the usual melismatic hell that is exemplified by Britney Spears and her ilk.Speaking of the lyrics, as you must have guessed by now from most of the song titles, this album is about love and all the pain it causes. That said, there is a refreshing sincerity (no pun intended), in this limb of the so called ‘woe-is-me factory’.Looks pretty bitter, eh?

The grooves all through the album are great, with no unnecessarily jumpy hooks and with some gentle chord changes. This woman has amazing sense of harmony. The chords are consistently interesting and beautiful and surprising in their soft, enveloping magnificence. Also, large parts of many songs are full of moody instrumentals seemingly lulling you into peaceful sleep on a bed of bass and tickling percussion. They are all wonderful, but I wish that the songs with serious bass grooves had the bass a little louder, like “Satisfy”, “Fool of Me” and “Grace”. The plague that makes your booty move is somewhat lacking, as a result. That’s quite disappointing, knowing the fact that Meshell is a kick-ass bass player capable of an ocean deep pocket, as you will see in the video.

Faults? The whole tone of the album could have been much less somber at times. It’s good music, but it started to get to me b y the 10th track. Will I be coming back to this album? Not as an album I won’t, but I will regularly listen to the fantastic tracks stuffed with great grooves on the first half of the album.

- El Bajista


More R n’ B/ SOUL (only one album at the time of writing this review) HERE.


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