An underrated gem, Meshell Ndegeocello shines on Comet, Come to Me
Meshell Ndegeocello • Comet, Come to Me • Naïve • US Release Date: June 3, 2014
Sometimes it is the most underrated artist who truly captivates the listener. So many talented musicians can lay claim to the characterization of being ‘underrated’, despite possessing magnificent skills. Bassist/singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello is a veteran at her eclectic craft, but definitely isn’t exactly a household name. Perhaps she should be, given her incredibly versatility, showcased to the upmost on her latest LP, Comet, Come to Me. Comet, Come to Me is an album that is expressive, strange, unique, and brilliant all in one; it is truly a special auditory experience. 13 tracks deep, Comet, Come to Me never misses the mark.
“Friends” opens Comet, Come to Me with an incredibly innovative and progressive spirit. Sure, it’s still pays its dues to soul and retains neo-soul cues and characteristics, but the listener can perceive that Ndegeocello has a willingness and fearlessness to ‘spread her wings’. The opener definitely has a cosmic nature about it, incorporating ‘extraterrestrial’ synths, poetic spoken word lyrics, and of course Ndegeocello’s anchoring bass lines.
If “Friends” is forward thinking, follow-up “Tom” is more traditional, remaining true to soul in an indie vein. The vocals are restrained but pure, much like the overall production. Even given a ‘pull back’ of sorts following the opener, the smoothness and lushness of “Tom” is incredibly desirable and enjoyable to listen to.
“Good Day Bad” definitely taps into Ndegeocello’s singer/songwriter, indie side. Honestly, while soulfulness and the hint of R&B is written throughout this track, it could easily be characterized as alternative or even folk-rock without any strings attached. The acoustic guitars and light drum groove stand tall.
Switching up styles once more, “Forget My Name” dives into a reggae-soul combination. Much like everything else up until this point, Ndegeocello continues to bring her ‘A’ game, alluring the listener with the upmost musicianship. The use of the trombone proves to be an exceptional touch where the orchestration is concerned. Lyrically, the key, reiterated lyrics are as follows: “If you love me, forget my name”. There it is!
Cosmic soundscape “And Then It Moves” adds even more enigma about the LP, definitely matching the vibe without question. It foreshadows the equally moody, mysterious title track “Comet, Come to Me” which mixes alternative R&B, reggae cues, and of course indie singer/songwriter sensibilities. Minimalist in some respects, “Comet, Come to Me” keeps the listener engaged given its nonconformity and willingness to ‘go against the grain’.
“Continuous Performance” taps directly into Ndegeocello’s rock side – the rock-oriented guitars are prominently displayed within the production. Even with ‘rock’ winning out here for the most part, Ndegeocello’s musical eclecticism still rears its head. This sense of musical restlessness mixed with a cool vocal approach is nothing short if hypnotic and welcome. “Shopping For Jazz” follows, initially finding Ndegeocello accompanied by guitars. Soon enough, her robust bass enters in, anchoring things down. Later, drums get in the mix, completing the arrangement. The pacing and use of space on this abstract number is by all means a selling point.
Highlight “Conviction” has neo-soul written all over it, though incorporates a pop/rock groove. As always vocally, Ndegeocello doesn’t ruffle many feathers or over perform the song with histrionics; she keeps things simple, organic sounding, and soulful. The quarter note violin riff is a solid touch.
“Folie A Deux” continues on with coolness, despite being moody in a minor key. Sure, Ndegeocello is emphasizing to her lover “let me go”, but her poise throughout is incredible. Instrumentally, the use of vibes adds a unique tone color. The songwriting of “Choices” is based upon key lyric “too many”, hence where the title/idea of “Choices” comes from. Essentially, Ndegeocello seems to assert there is any number of (“too many”) decisions to make in life.
Penultimate joint “Modern Times” again provides a blend of multiple styles, namely soul and subtle hint of reggae. Purity might be the best way to describe “Modern Times”. There are few frills, but sound execution. “American Rhapsody” concludes the album solidly, once more embracing the enigmatic nature that initiated it. Much like “Friends”, “American Rhapsody” has an experimental nature about it.
Ultimately, Comet, Come to Me is a fabulous album that more listeners should be exposed to. Even with the neo-soul movement expired (or nearly expired), Ndegeocello brings plenty to the table worth hearing. Before the alternative R&B that has become R&B go-to trend today, there was Meshell Ndegeocello, and she continues to flex her creative, musical muscles.
“Friends”; “Good Day Bad”; “Comet, Come to Me”; “Conviction”; “Choices”