Written By Simon Chisholm
A good friend recommended Me’Shell Ndegeocello to me after a discussion about bass guitar and grooves. I don’t know if I chose the best album to reflect what we were discussing, but it still put an amazing artists on my radar. On this album, Me’Shell is Bitter.
The album title is very descriptive of the overall tone of the album, and the first track (an instrumental) acts as an introduction into the ‘Bitter’ state of mind that the album stems from. While the tone is negative, the lyrical subjects revolve around relation ships including; finding, wanting, and being in love, losing love and remembering love. The album isn’t dark however, at times our protagonist is full of love and happiness.
Overall, this album is easy to listen to. It has a laid back, relaxed classic R’N’B sound with Jazz influences. There is also a funk and soul element present, through heavy use of hook line repetition.
The vocal performance throughout the album is deep, flowing and mostly slow. Yet don’t think the performance is lacking, what has been delivered is exactly what the songs called for.
While the vocals are the focal point of each track, large sections of the songs are instrumental, making the instrumental motifs a central element. The accompanying instrumentation is sparse and groove orientated, with heavy utilisation of ostinato by all instruments.
Me-Shell is an accomplished bass player and the bass lines that feature on this record are fun and groovy. The kind that a bass player delights in jamming. Songs like ‘Satisfy’ particularly show off Me’Shell’s bass chops.
Featured on this work are a number of compositional devices that are not used in a scarce capacity. They include riffs, lick, ostinatos, motifs, fills, ornamentation, harmonics, solo sections, movement and arrangements. The musicianship present is highlighted by the perfect execution in the performances.
My favourite track is ‘Beautiful’, simply because it sounds pretty and creates an interesting soundscape with the layering of ostinatos.
Released 1999 by Maverick Recording Company.