Meshell Ndegéocello

Meshell Ndegéocello

Bitter

Maverick

This album is a masterpiece of mood. By turns soulful, jazzy, dark, and beautiful, Bitter is a moving work of art. Imagine, if you will, combining the deeply soulful sound of Erykah Badu with the intensely personal atmosphere of Tori Amos’ best work, and you’re on the right track to figuring out what makes this record so special. Simple, heartbreakingly beautiful arrangements are accented with strings, piano, and guitar in just the right places. The record feels like a coherent whole; as though it should be viewed as a single work, rather than a collection of tracks. As such, it’s hard to site specific tracks as proof of the album’s worthiness — yes, “Loyalty” sounds like the best song Gladys Knight & the Pips never recorded, and the structure of “Fool of Me” and “Wasted Time” recalls some of Prince’s best material, but neither so much that they take away from the feeling of the record as a whole. A subdued cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “May This Be Love” fits seamlessly into the mix. Nothing sounds out of place or wrong — it’s as if the album sprung whole and beautiful from Ndegéocello’s soul onto the disc. A gorgeous triumph.

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