Release Date: Nov 8, 2011
Record label: Naive / Anti
Genre(s): R&B, Pop/Rock
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.
Meshell Ndegeocello has always had an idiosyncratic but deeply effective way with an image, but Weather highlights that particular gift in a way that her earlier efforts haven’t. The initial announcement that she’d chosen to collaborate with producer Joe Henry raised at least a little bit of concern for me, given that Henry has turned in some truly banal work for artists like Aimee Mann and Rodney Crowell, but his relatively light touch on Weather keeps the focus on some of the most intimate and detailed lyrics of Ndegeocello’s career. Considering the remarkable consistency and depth of her catalogue, it’s hard to say that the pairing with Henry has resulted in the best album of Ndegeocello’s career, but Weather is still a tremendously powerful effort.
You never know what type of world you’re going to be stepping into when you listen to a new Meshell Ndegeocello album. Those who have followed her career right from her 1993 masterpiece Plantation Lullabies (which is one of the most overlooked and underrated albums of the ‘90s), knows that Meshell rarely, if ever, repeats herself. In fact, this lack of repetition is sometimes so jarring that it’s difficult to follow the path she took from one album to the next.
The 10th album from Meshell Ndegéocello feels like cocooning yourself in a hotel with a lover for a week: deeply intimate, wholly engrossing. On the title track, half plea and half seduction, she elides domesticity with subtle eroticism; by La Petite Mort, she's murmuring "Who's your daddy?" in her deep husk of a voice – perfectly framed throughout the album by gently sensual arrangements of warm piano chords and tactile brushed drums. The outside world, when Ndegéocello deigns to notice it, gets short shrift: "Kick and scream and watch it burn," she observes with disgust.
A curious album which requires several airings to reveal its secretive charms. Martin Longley 2011 On first hearing, it’s tempting to conclude that this ninth Meshell Ndegeocello album promises to be as dreary as its title. It’s no help that the first four tracks are the least-gripping songs on the entire run of 13. The initial impression is of an accumulation of slow-paced, deeply introverted ballads, trudging along in search of their tunes, like the least engaging stretches of an average Prince album.It sounds like the ultimate relationship break-up concept piece, and the singer/bassist’s listeners are all aboard for the long journey.
With a career spanning 20 years, Meshell Ndegeocello’s musical capacity has grown to such lengths that she is capable of releasing an album that is just as well-rounded as it is sincere. The bassist/vocalist’s ninth studio album, Weather, reflects this as an audacious compilation of carefully arranged instrumentals under reflective lyrics.Ndegeocello is not shy about letting the pulse of a song run full force. She begins the album with the title track, the guitar intro reminiscent of a country song, before her husky vocals slide over the top proclaiming that when various event occur throughout life, “We can always blame it on the weather.” Weather accurately discusses the joys and trials of life without being annoyingly overbearing.
FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE “Ceremonials”. (Universal Republic).