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| 21 March 2018 | Reply

Label: Naïve, a division of Believe

Release Date: March 16, 2018

Rating: 8.5/10

Reviewed by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

Meshell Ndegeocello is one of those artists that always seems to drop something worthwhile without much fanfare or attention.  On her 12th releases, she dips into the R&B and pop pool of the 80’s and 90’s and delivers some cool tracks that maintain the energy and passion of the originals while putting her own spin on them.  Disc opener “I Wonder If I Take You Home” – originally performed by Lisa Lisa & The Cult Jam feat. Full Force – kicks things off with a cool fusion sound that is accentuated by the layered vocals and the cool percussion.  While the vocals are in a lower octave, the vibe of the track is driven by Meshell’s voice.  Al B. Sure!’s seminal classic “Nite And Day” is very close stylistically to the original while showcasing Ndegeocello’s twist on the track at times.  The opening of this track lulls you in and unfolds into a track that is a pleasure to listen to.  “Waterfalls”, made famous by TLC, is another track that takes a slight deviation from the original while shining a light on the strength of the songs structure by slowing the mix down and putting a little darker groove behind it.  Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity” could have been an original, as it sounded much different thanks to the tempo and cadence that drives the verse and leads us into the chorus.  It is as if this song was built for Meshell’s vocals.  Another huge hit she tackled on this effort is Force MD’s “Tender Love.”  Ndegeocello’s version is just as contagious as the original, especially the opening that gives the song a different vibe while sticking with the groove of the original.  The laid back sound of the track adds depth to the song and the disc – another favorite on the disc.  “Private Dancer” from Tina Turner is a cool track that slows the song down and gives it a grittier feel, while the vocals are a bit cleaner and less abrasive than Turner’s voice.  This song breathes different life into a classic track that most artists wouldn’t brave reimagining… and it pays off.

One of my favorite tracks on the disc – a killer cover of “Sometimes It Snows In April” from Prince takes the song into new territory while keeping the vibe of the original intact.  The mellow intro to the song builds as unrecognizable, but if you are familiar with Prince, the song comes to mind as soon as the vocals kick in.  George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog 2017” get a redux and it is stylistically more different than most tracks on the collection.  The guitars and percussion add depth to the opening of the track while the verse and chorus take on a life of their own.  Janet Jackson’s “Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun)” gets the star treatment from Ndegeocello and the song starts off slow and chunky, as did the original, but this one lacks the poppy vocals when comparing Meshell to Janet and the different octaves.  “Don’t Disturb This Groove” from The System is a track that I was not familiar with on my first couple passes through the disc, but this version grew on me and I went to the original… and I will keep this one in my rotation.  The textures of the different musical components woven with the layered lyrics builds a mood and feel that draws you in from open to close.  Closer “Smooth Operator” is Meshell Ndegeocello’s take on the Sade track and this song sounds as if it were deconstructed, spun through a machine, and regenerated.  The groove and cadence are different and the piano / bass / percussion combo that kicks in before the vocals take this song in a different direction altogether.

Tracklisting: I Wonder If I Take You Home – Nite And Day – Sometimes It Snows In April – Waterfalls – Atomic Dog 2017 – Sensitivity – Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun) – Tender Love – Don’t Disturb This Groove – Private Dancer – Smooth Operator






Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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