The always talented and mysterious Meshell Ndegeocello has been intriguing listeners with her beautiful, unique sound for the past two decades. Thankfully, she’s not an artist who is afraid to take a risk or challenge the status quo; she is fearless in her approach to art and music. Thus, on learning that she has released an album of covers of contemporary R&B and urban hits from the last 25 to 30 years, my curiosity was piqued. Ventriloquism, recently released, is an album that does not surprise in its quality. The remakes are fresh, and her choices of material are interesting, to say the least; one would not have thought to have asked her to do a slow burn torch song take on George Clinton‘s Funk classic,”Atomic Dog.” She did, though, and the results are amazing.
It’s not so surprising, then, she would take on the Prince & The Revolution classic,”Sometimes it Snows in April.” Considering she was spoiled for choice when selecting a Prince song to cover, her selection is inspired, if not a little safe. The song is perhaps Prince’s second-best ballad right behind “Purple Rain,” and while the original version is gorgeously wrapped in a lush piano arrangement, Ndegeocello has layered her take with both delicate, heavenly guitars and a dark, unsettling, almost post rock drone. As the song is a ballad about death, the unsettling feeling she adds to her arrangement makes the song even more poignant. In short, this is Meshell Ndegeocello doing what she does best––making uniform music that is thought-provoking and stays with the listener well after the song has ended.
Meshell Ndegeocello’s Ventriloquism is available now from Naïve.