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CD Reviews: Comet, Come to Me 

Meshell Ndegeocello.

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A subdued coolness permeates Meshell Ndegeocello's Comet, Come to Me, providing the atmospheric coherence and sonic glue to what is in some ways a wildly eclectic collection. The cool comes from the hybrid organic/electro soundset, the downbeat and meditative songwriting, Ndegeocello's rich but leveled singing, and a confident strand of avant-garde minimalism running throughout these 13 tracks. While it doesn't play hard to get, Comet, Come to Me asks you to come to it; the songs are unfailingly melodic but lacking in concentrated hooks (which is not to say that it is littered with failed hooks—hardly). Hooks aren't the point. Immersive moods, subtle internal action, textural sound shaping, and leisurely, articulate lines are the point. Once you're in, it's gripping stuff. You stay in for the duration.

Ndegeocello leads with a curious, robotic reading of Whodini's rap hit "Friends," followed by the cerebral soul of "Tom," followed the lightly disturbed twang of "Good Day Bad." Later on, she offers a tense, chant-like setting of the Kenneth Fearing poem "Continuous Performance" that sounds like it is going to erupt into a new wave rocker but never does. "Folie A Deux" is just one of several brilliantly architected groove tunes, one that nails that Prince-like effect of irresistible motion achieved with minimal sounds and abundant open space. Comet, Come to Me is a work of elegant experimentalism and patient, exploratory songwriting. It's also the work of a master.


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