Ventriloquism

Ventriloquism

by MeShell NdegeOcello

CD

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Overview

Covers have been part of Meshell Ndegeocello album sessions since 1996, when the masterful bassist and undervalued vocalist updated Bill Withers' "Who Is He and What Is He to You." Her late-2000s/early-2010s repertoire included radically reshaped versions of songs originally recorded by and/or associated with Ready for the World, Leonard Cohen, the Soul Children, Nina Simone, and Whodini. For this creative all-covers set bearing an incompatible title, Ndegeocello concentrates on the era that birthed the Ready for the World and Whodini tracks -- the mid- to late '80s, primarily her late-teenage years -- with wistfulness applied only when the material calls for it. She heads a group that consists of longtime partners Chris Bruce (guitar) and Jebin Bruni (keyboards, production), and relatively recent associate Abe Rounds (drums, vocals). The quartet, occasionally joined by players such as Doyle Bramhall II, Jeff Parker, and Levon Henry, roams fluidly through funk, roots music, and unclassifiable stylistic amalgamations, like they're doing so on an intuitive level. Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam's "I Wonder If I Take You Home" opens the album in rumbling, knotted form, and Sade's "Smooth Operator" slinks, dips, and dives like a modern spy-film theme to end the album. Apart from those numbers and an "Atomic Dog" that sounds urban-rancher kitschy until it becomes apparent that it actually slays, the album moves measuredly with slow jams and ballads. Al B. Sure!'s "Nite and Day" and the System's "Don't Disturb This Groove" rapturously float. Three pages from the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis songbook appear consecutively around the middle and switch from a kind of bopping strut to droning atmospheres that verge on threatening. (Imagine what could have been done with the S.O.S. Band's "Tell Me If You Still Care.") TLC's "Waterfalls," the only selection originally released after Plantation Lullabies, sounds wiser from Ndegeocello. Even more poignant is Prince's "Sometimes It Snows in April," mercifully placed early in the sequence, rather than at the end, so as not to leave the listener a weeping wreck.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/16/2018
Label: Naive
UPC: 3700187667016
catalogNumber: 6701
Rank: 28622

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Meshell Ndegeocello   Primary Artist,Bass,Vocals
Doyle Bramhall   Guitar
Chris Bruce   Guitar
Jeff Parker   Guitar
Eric Schermerhorn   Narrator
Jebin Bruni   Keyboards
Adam Levy   Guitar
Kaveh Rastegar   Bass
Chris Pierce   Harmonica
Levon Henry   Woodwind
Jonathan Hoard   Vocals
Justin Hicks   Vocals
Kat Khaleel   Vocals
Abraham Rounds   Drums,Vocals
Anne Schermerhorn   Spoken Word

Technical Credits

Janet Jackson   Composer
Mic Murphy   Composer
Prince   Composer
George Clinton   Composer
Lisa Coleman   Composer
David Frank   Composer
Mark Knopfler   Composer
Terry Lewis   Composer
Wendy Melvoin   Composer
Garry Shider   Composer
David Spradley   Composer
Kyle West   Composer
Jebin Bruni   Producer
Albert Brown   Composer
James Harris   Composer
Curtis Bedeau   Composer
S. "Husky" Hoskulds   Engineer
Pete Min   Engineer
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes   Composer
Gerard Charles   Composer
Hugh Clarke   Composer
Lucien George   Composer
Patrick "Sleepy" Brown   Composer
Brian George   Composer
Paul George   Composer
Raymond St. John   Composer
Marquese Ethridge   Composer
Raymon Murray   Composer
Helen Adu   Composer
Rico Renard Wade   Composer
Jack DeBoe   Vocal Producer

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