Meshell Ndegeocello has been making her own brand of music for 20 years, and Weather is a worthy addition to her catalog.
For this recording, Ndegeocello was produced by Grammy winner Joe Henry, who has worked with Aimee Mann and Ani DeFranco as well as Solomon Burke. It features minimal, wispy musical arrangements which allow Ndegeocello’s voice, simultaneously soft yet fierce, to shine, sometimes showcased by collaboration with Chris Connelly (formerly of Ministry), Benji Hughes, and Joe Henry himself.
Overall, the sound is spacey, languid, and thoughtful.Some tracks do stand out such as “Oysters,” which has a very Lennonesque sound and defies the more somber mood of Weather as a whole. I love the interplay of male and female voices on “Crazy and Wild.” My copy of the CD does not indicate which of the three male collaborators are on each song, but whichever one this is, his voice is perfect with Ndegeocello’s on this track. My favorite song on the album is Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel.” Meshell’s evocative voice is a perfect match for Cohen’s haunting lyrics.
Breaking out into a somewhat fiercer, more bitter sound is “Dirty World,” which harks back to some of Meshell’s earlier, more political work. It is also one of the few tracks on Weather which prominently features Ndegeocello’s bass work, a reminder of why she is considered a bass goddess as well as a singer/songwriter. “Rapid Fire” is another more intense offering which features her stellar bass work. The last song on Weather, “Don’t Mistake My Kindness for Weakness,” seems like a fitting summation of this CD: “Just because I’m gentle, doesn’t mean I’m not strong.”
This is the perfect CD for listening to by candlelight, alone, with a cup of tea, with rain and wind outside. Get it for those times when you just want to melt into the music.