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R&B/Soul - Released March 16, 2018 | Naive

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Throughout his albums, you quickly understand that Meshell Ndegeocello was more than a Prince-ss. It’s easier to just see in this amazing singer, bass player and songwriter the female counterpart of the small genius from Minneapolis… For a quarter of a century, she has created the perfect alchemy between jazz, soul, rock, pop, funk, new wave and hip-hop, a true custard pie that is usually indigestible when tried by her competitors. With her, free as a bird never rang so true. It’s only logical, as this is the meaning of Ndegeocello in Swahili… Her 2018 batch sounds like a return to the groove roots; Meshell entertains herself by revisiting songs from the masters of the genre (Prince, TLC, George Clinton, Tina Turner, Janet Jackson, Sade) and also from some forgotten names (Force MDs, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Surface, Al B. Sure!). Recorded in Los Angeles with her faithful Chris Bruce (guitar), Abraham Rounds (drums) and Jebin Bruni (keyboards), the aptly-named Ventriloquism is much more than a simple “cover album”. Stripped-down of their sometimes dated original sound, her songs are completely restored with care and taste by a Meshell that is as inspired as ever (TLC’s Waterfalls sounds like some Neil Young!) and yet beset by a rather dark personal touch. “The year around the recording of this album was so disorienting and dispiriting for me personally and for so many people I know and spoke to all the time. I looked for a way to make something that was light while things around me were so dark, a musical place to go that reminded me of another, brighter time.” This sensation of plenitude can be redeeming, and also kind of beautiful. All of that exudes from Ventriloquism, the strong work of an upstanding as ever and really unique artist. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

R&B/Soul - Released October 15, 1993 | Maverick

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography

R&B - Released January 1, 1996 | Maverick


Jazz - Released August 13, 1999 | Maverick

Bitter is an appropriate title for Meshell Ndegéocello's third album. Inspired by a torturous romantic relationship, Bitter surges with emotions, and most of them are shaded with regret, remorse, or bitterness. Undoubtedly, the relationship was painful, but it has given Ndegéocello an artistic focus missing on her two previous albums. It provides a sorrowful, meditative emotional template that she matches with moody, slow songs that flow into each other. It's the kind of album that demands close listening, otherwise it has the tendency to fade into the background. For some listeners, concentrated listening may be a little difficult, given the bleak emotions of the music, but Ndegéocello's subtle songcraft truly reveals itself upon close inspection. And, with repeated plays, Bitter reveals itself as the most personal -- and in many ways, most rewarding -- album of her career. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

R&B/Soul - Released November 7, 2011 | Naive

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On the majority of Weather, Meshell Ndegeocello is supported by a core group that played on 2009’s Devil's Halo: drummer Deantoni Parks, guitarist Chris Bruce, and pianist Keefus Ciancia. While Devil's Halo was co-produced by Ndegeocello and Bruce, this set was produced by Joe Henry, who was involved in the making of 1999's Bitter and notes in the liners here that he "pushed for songs to happen -- as much as possible -- as real-time 'live' performances." Compared to Devil's Halo, the set is a little more stripped-down with a slightly greater sense of spontaneity, and Ciancia dials down his "various soundscapes." There's tighter focus on romantic relationships, or maybe just one relationship, with a "you" addressed throughout on a spectrum of aching emotion that ranges from distress to desire. Radically different emotions are conveyed with minor, affecting inflections. In the dizzily swaying "Objects in Mirror," she can't move on ("I think about you every day/While I loiter on your doorstep"), while the somewhat similarly adorned "La Petite Mort" floats in on hushed libidinal swagger ("Arch your back and tell me the truth/Who's your daddy now?"). The wealth of lithe, quiet backdrops played at slow tempos allows Ndegeocello, who switches between husky lower and sweet upper registers with more ease than ever, to tickle the ears. No song rocks, but a few groove, best heard on "Dirty World" ("Kick and scream and watch it burn"), featuring a stealthily furious and funky bassline. This time, there are two covers, and they slip into the album's fabric with ease. The Soul Children's 1972 Stax single "Don't Take My Kindness for Weakness" is turned into a delicate ballad with acoustic guitar and piano but is no less assertive, while Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel" gets stately, full-band treatment with a wistful touch. Ndegeocello is making some of the finest music of her life. Given her consistency of late, it's quite possible that the same thing will be said of her output for as long as she is active. ~ Andy Kellman

R&B - Released June 4, 2002 | Maverick

A few things are proven on Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape, mainly that Me'Shell Ndegéocello can still play bass, and that three years between albums can be worth the wait. Both concepts were tested with her previous disc, Bitter, which lacked Ndegéocello's playing skills and floundered under mixed reviews and limited commercial appeal. While her fifth disc may not alleviate the latter, the former should be back around in droves. The attempts at pop songcraft heard on her earlier albums and best represented with the minor hit "If That's Your Boyfriend" seem long gone. That's not to say that Cookie is not catchy, just not within the parameters of traditional pop methodology, as she instead brings the funk constantly, mixing it up with a smattering of jazzy sensibilities and hip-hop. Ultimately, the disc is a mix of Afrocentrifugal explosiveness -- not only from the music, but also from her powerful lyrics that make the political personal and the personal political. ~ Brian O'Neill

Jazz - Released October 14, 2003 | Maverick

To get immediately to the point, if Meshell Ndegeocello's Comfort Woman isn't regarded as one of the finest contemporary soul albums of 2003, then those who review music for a living had better get eardrum transplants and a transfusion of blood to get rid of the sawdust, or quit to sell used cars, work in a fast-food establishment, or pump gas. The marketplace is tricky, but if this disc doesn't sell, then Madonna needs to fire her marketing department at Maverick. Comfort Woman is a deeply sensual album, sexy as hell and drenched with lush, richly textured bass grooves that bubble under warmly and luxuriantly in a series of songs that may not be all that divergent in tempo, but don't have to be either. This is late-night music, where the sound of a bass doesn't so much pop as it rumbles in the lower spine, looking for release. Make no mistake on Comfort Woman, space is the place and that place is reached via two vehicles, a perfect commingling of the spirits of dub reggae and mid-'70s soul and groove jazz. Think, perhaps, of David Sancious and Teena Marie as bandmates with Sly & Robbie in the rhythm section, Jimi Hendrix's "Rainy Day, Dream Away" as a music model, and Sade as vocalist -- you get the idea. The opening track, "Love Song," begins with a spacy bassline, rumbling in the lower register soft enough to ease its way into a song yet tough enough that it won't let the listener go. With a B-3 shimmering in the background, Ndegeocello begins to sing, so s-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-l-y: "If you want me, baby, just call/Let me kiss your body/Fill you with love/Let me feed your body/Feed it with love/I can't sleep...this is love/This is how I love you...." She croons with a breathy Smokey Robinson coo. On "Come Smoke My Herb," you can hear traces of both Shuggie Otis' and the Brothers Johnson's ballads infused with the brazen promise of Joni Mitchell and Gregory Isaacs meeting in bliss to swing and sway under a dubwise moon. Speaking of moons, "Liliquoi Moon" features guest guitarist Oren Bloedow, who adds his tonal dexterity to a soulfully psychedelic mix of woven acoustic guitars, a lullaby melody, and life-affirming lyrics until the end when Doyle Bramhall goes into overdrive in his solo, transforming the tune into a shape-shifting poltergeist of a track. Bramhall also lends his axe to "Love Song #3," which was truly inspired by Hendrixian grace and elegance à la Electric Ladyland. "Love Song # 2" and "Andromeda & the Milky Way" are sex beat tracks, music with a slow walking tiger in the hips as bass and keyboards stride out, loping, then halting and curling around the listener like smoke. Fact of the matter is, Comfort Woman is one of the most forward-thinking records to come out of contemporary soul in well over a decade. It's possible to remember when Prince made music as fine, sensual, and spiritual as this, but it's a struggle. This is Ndegeocello's finest moment on record thus far, and is as good as it gets in the field. ~ Thom Jurek

R&B - Released February 2, 2018 | Naive

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R&B - Released February 23, 2018 | Naive

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R&B - Released January 12, 2018 | Naive

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Pop - Released January 1, 2007 | Decca US - Emarcy

Say what you will about bassist, songwriter, singer, bandleader, and arranger Meshell Ndegeocello, any box you attempt to put her into is not possibly big enough to hold her creativity and restless, unwieldy aesthetic vision. On "The Sloganeer: Paradise," a tune in which she equates the bland, complicit nature of blindly living modern life with committing suicide, she sings: "To know me is to know I love with/My imagination." It's a summation of her entire career thus far, and this album furthers that notion exponentially. The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams is Ndegeocello's debut for Decca; it is wilder than Cookie: An Anthropological Mixtape, or her last recording, The Spirit Music Jamia: Dance of the Infidel. The latter set was a project that indulged her love of postmodern jazz and engaged in improvisation. She directed an ensemble that included Oliver Lake, Don Byron, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Garrett, Ron Blake, Brandon Ross, Lalah Hathaway, Cassandra Wilson, and others. It walked a line between tight song-oriented material and longer jam-based tunes, and she didn't really sing on it. That's remedied here, and her sultry, smoky voice is heard on virtually every cut. Musically, this albums walks through walls. There are funky soul tunes whose backdrops are full of psychedelic music that would make the latter-day Jimi Hendrix smile in delight (think the material from Cry of Love). There are jazz-oriented tunes that slip toward pop, folk, and whole-tone folk songs. The lyrical content engages spiritual concerns and carnal love more often than not in the same song. And while she once more employs a wildly diverse collection of collaborators that include everyone from Ross and Lake to Pat Metheny, Oumou Sangare, Robert Glasper, Mike Severson, Daniel Jones, Doyle Bramhall, David Gilmore (not the one from Pink Floyd), James Newton, and Graham Haynes, she also cut two songs ("Evolution" and the bonus cut "Soul Spaceship"), playing all the instruments herself. So what does it sound like? The future arriving fully formed on the doorstep. It opens provocatively enough with noted American Muslim teacher and Islamic scholar Shiek Hamza Yusuf reciting the predictions of Mohammed to a backwash of Ross' guitar and ambient sounds. (Yusuf was the man who appeared with George W. Bush after 9/11 and denounced the attacks and all religious violence, and is working for a return to Islamic sciences as well as assisting Western governments in understanding Islamic culture and Muslims.) It moves into a rock & roll dreamscape called "Sloganeering: Paradise" awash in keyboards, a drummer playing drum and bass breaks that would make Prince jealous. "Evolution" is a spaced-out psychedelic dirge with few lyrics and a sound field worthy of Hendrix (and indeed her guitar playing is influenced in that direction). The sci-fi jazz of "Virgo," with Lake, Newton, and trombonist George McMullen, hovers and floats in vanguard space before turning into a dreamy pop song with acoustic guitars, synth washes, and samples but is held together with a gorgeous melody and vocal performance (and contains a funky little solo by Lake on alto saxophone). "Shirk" is a gorgeous spiritual duet between Sangare and Ndegeocello with Hervé Sambe and Metheny on acoustic guitars. Metheny also appears on "Article," the following cut with a guest appearance by Thandiswa Mazwai singing with Ndegéocello, but this time out she pops that bass of hers in response. It's a dizzying cut with shifting rhythms and textures, and call-and-response vocals that feel more like counterpoint as different sonic and textural motifs move across the front of the tune. All this and the record is just over halfway. The deep spirituality at work here has been present in Ndegeocello's work arguably since the beginning, but it has become more pronounced in recent years. That said, the beautiful and poetic expressions of desire as it encounters both flesh and the divine are soulful, without pretension or artifice. "Michelle Johnson" is a freewheeling exploration of electronic outer realms, tough guitar, and bass-heavy funk, with killer drum kit work by Deantoni Parks and hand percussion by Gilmar Gomes. The sonic treatments by Scott Mann and Chad Royce are all structure to fill the space around the artist's basslines and expressive belly-deep voice -- and you can be the judge as to which Michelle Johnson she's speaking of here. "Solomon" is among the most beautiful songs this woman has ever written. It is presented in a painterly way, illustrated and framed inside a warm bubbly electronic backdrop that gives way to languid melody, a spine-moving bassline that grooves low and slow on this futuristic soul lullaby. The official album closes with the completely out-to-lunch "Relief: A Stripper Classic," which is the true missing link between urban soul, heavy metal, and slow, downtempo funk -- all of it with a pronounced hook and refrain. "Soul Spaceship" is the place where Sly Stone, Amp Fiddler, and Millie Jackson meet in a big bass sci-fi wonderland presided over by Rick James and Teena Marie! The basslines and synth lines are huge, drum machines abound and skitter, and all the while Ndegéocello and Sy Smith make a beautifully grooving mess with the vocals. Ultimately, The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams, with its irony, sincerity, seeming contradiction, and elliptical paradox, is the most expansive, complex record yet released by this always provocative artist. It will take more than a single listen to warm up to, but once you actually take it in, it will be one of her recordings you go back to over and again because while it gives up its secrets slowly, it gives the listener something new each time too. Wild, visionary, and marvelously tough, this is a groover that will turn you inside out. ~ Thom Jurek

Alternative & Indie - Released October 6, 2010 | Meshell Ndegeocello PS

On three of her last four recordings, Meshell Ndegeocello has showcased her aesthetic restlessness, expanding her musical horizons to jazz, hip-hop, and the far-flung reaches of rock as well as funk and soul. On Devil's Halo, she focuses her vision deliberately on a dozen soulish, near-pop, rock tunes. Recorded by S. Husky Höskulds, it's stark compared to her last three albums. Ndegeocello plays bass and sings backed by guitarist Chris Bruce, drummer Deantoni Parks, and keyboardist Keith Ciancia, with guest appearances by Oren Bloedow, and Lisa Germano. Desire haunts all the songs on Devil's Halo, beginning with "Slaughter," its opening track. Ndegeocello sings slowly, softly, deliberately, without a hint of irony: "She said she loved me/I ran away/ Don't say you love me/I'll run away..." The refrain explodes with guitars, bass, and vocals in a shattering crescendo: "...My love will leave you slaughter..." Romance, substance abuse, and one woman speaking candidly to another are themes in this musical meditation on bliss, lust, loneliness, and emotional wreckage, which are inseparable when the amorous is even considered, at least in Ndegeocello's world. "Lola" begins with the lines: "She drinks until she passes out/on the floor..." then erupts with a series of double-timed breaks to underscore confusion: "The boy she loved/left her for another girl/The girl she loved/left her for another boy..." A staccato explosion from Bruce's guitar engages her bassline in an instrumental bridge that Frank Zappa would have loved. "Mass Transit" is funkier, a bit more aggressive from the outset with Bruce's guitar leading the way, though Ndegeocello's bassline offers an alternate read on both melody and rhythmic pulse. Her voice is a soft croon despite the music's aggression, and it keeps the tune grounded in the seductive. "White Girl" may be the straightest pop song Ndegeocello's ever written, but its bassline is strictly dubwise. The vocals are smoky and elliptical, they create their own chorus in reverb and in the singer's deliberately stretched-out phrase, all around a very simple, hooky melody. The title track is a nearly ambient instrumental, with Ndegeocello playing harmonics on her bass in the mix just underneath a snare and kick drum barely outlining the time signature. Bruce paints it gingerly with his chord voicings. "A Bright Shiny Morning" is a gorgeous if lithe rocker, while "Blood on the Curb" is a more soulful, spacy rockist number with Ndegeocello's voice barely crooning above the heavyweight instrumentation, though she practices dynamic restraint. The album ends with another ballad, the brief but startling "Crying in Your Beer" with Bruce playing a spidery banjo as well as guitar atop Ciancia's ghostly keyboards and a skeletal bassline. It's an atmospheric tune, made taut by the words: " Sometimes, I forget where we are/Sometimes, I forget we're in love/Don't let me/die alone...." Ndegeocello can always, it seems, quite literally articulate her musical vision, but she hasn't been so nakedly vulnerable and brazenly honest on record as she is here. She remains musically mercurial and virtually unclassifiable, even if she is at her most accessible on Devil's Halo. ~ Thom Jurek

Pop/Rock - Released June 20, 2005 | Shanachie