Released in 2014 by Naïve Records, Comet, Come to Me is Meshell Ndegeocello’s fourteenth – fourteenth! – album. It is an album that is full of musicality, meaning, and mmmmm (both the delicious and the pensive kind).
Rhythmic strings, tight and layered, cede to electronic instrumentation and vocals that spit out the lyrics to “Friends” in a manner so simultaneously stern and beautiful it’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard. (And I’ve heard Whodini’s original.) If this song were a car, it would be a Mercedes SL model – one of the newer, lighter ones. Ndegeocello brings a new dimension to the classic song, which makes one pause to rethink the definition of “friends”. How it is sullied and cheapened by the “click to confirm” world that has sprouted since Whodini first dared ask the crucial questions!
“Tom” glides in like an ice dancer and does lazy figure eights through the listener’s cochlea in a way that makes me glad I wasn’t operating heavy machinery when I first listened. Ndegeocello is an angel, and the music is the cloud she inhabits. “Good Day Bad” starts big. Big like early in the morning when the Carolina sky is painting its first watercolor of the day, one that would have made Bob Ross lay down his butter knife and Prussian blue and retire to his sylvan cabin to never paint again. Or maybe it would inspire him. “Good Day Bad,” with Ndegeocello’s smooth and celestial voice makes me yearn for something else. I never knew that a song about things gone pear-shaped could be so beautiful. The ominous instrumental rolls through like storm clouds and the finger plucked guitar keeps things moving forward. This song, with its “more good than bad,” is testament to the triumph of good over evil. After all, every cloud has a silver lining. Or something like that.
A quicker beat ushers in the reggae-tinged “Forget My Name.” I’m a sucker for a delicious bass line, and this track delivers just that, as vocals and horns converge for psychedelic aural ecstasy. Seriously, this album should come with a warning label. “Forget My Name” stops time, evoking the ephemeral Stuff of Life. Go out! Do something! Carpe diem! “And Yet It Moves” provides a brief but necessary kick-start to the album, so as not to leave the listener stranded in time staring at an oscilloscope with the mind’s eye. Or rather, it is a musical conjunction.
The song’s title track begins with a pacific piano, picking up steam with percussion. “I was loving you I was loving,” brings the listener in, in medias res. Ndegeocello’s voice is dulcet, the bass line is spacious like an empty hallway, and the percussion snakes throughout like the Zambezi River. “Continuous Performance” begins like a rock ballad, a different sound with vocal style different from the sinuous sound of the previous tracks. This is a song I could sing along to, driven by absolute lyrics and percussive punctuation. Next, the album takes a turn for the acoustic, with a gentler but still strong injection of voice. Ndegeocello sings high like the piano bar greats, but gives “Shopping For Jazz” a mod infusion between verses. It is comfortably strange, stylishly different, an audible manifestation of the je ne sais quoi that people search for as they daydream while patrolling flea market tables and wandering through Ikea.
When “Conviction” started, I no longer doubted my decision to wear leather pants. This song saunters with the confidence of a badass at a billiard bar, but with the reality of the guy sitting alone in the suit. In this song Ndegeocello is honest, humble, and strong in her admissions. “Folie A Deux” continues the honesty introduced in the previous track in a cool and calculated way. The music is a symphony just sparse enough to attractively furnish a renovated factory apartment, but full enough so there’s a comfortable place to sit. Ndegeocello sings, “Truth is hard to handle / When it’s gone let it go,” leaving me wondering if it was enough to convince person number deux to buzz off. Guitar chords warm up the listener’s ears for Ndegeocello’s even warmer voice in “Choices.” If I were listening to a live version of this song, I would likely be waving my phone in the air, flashlight mode activated. This song is a bottle of water after a run, the savasana after a 90-minute hot yoga class.
That delicious bass is back in “Modern Times,” an energizing tune in which Ndegeocello pleads for the listener to remember, “You can’t stop.” Like I said before, carpe diem. Cutting through the energy created by “Modern Times” like a spoon through chocolate mousse, the album’s final track begins. “American Rhapsody” is indeed a rhapsody. As beautiful as organza on a beach, “American Rhapsody” flows forth, gently pushing its way through to deliver its message, the final message of the album, one of clairvoyant optimism: “A bona fide love will arrive at last.”
Meshell Ndegeocello 2016 Tour Dates
- Saturday 13 February 2016 City Winery, Nashville, TN
- Sunday 14 February 2016 Terminal West, Atlanta, GA – Win tickets to this show here.
- Thursday 18 February 2016 The Hamilton Live, Washington, DC
- Friday 19 February 2016 The Ardmore Music Hall, Ardmore, PA
- Saturday 20 February 2016 Le Poisson Rouge, New York, NY
- Sunday 10 April 2016 North Sea Jazz Club, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Wednesday 13 April 2016 Centre Culturel Paul Bailliart, Massy, France
- Thursday 14 April 2016 Cargo De Nuit, Arles, France
- Friday 15 April 2016 Espace Julien, Marseille, France