Meshell Ndegeocello

The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams (EmArcy/Decca/Universal)

Say what you will about the 1970s; some of the most defiantly original albums ever — John Cale's Fear, Brian Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain, and Sly & the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On — were released then on major labels. As the music biz teeters on the precipice of doom, one label did an agile aboutface and released Meshell Ndegeocello's The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams, as uncompromising and inspired as any of the aforementioned. While it's a bold proclamation, this album is our decade's Riot Goin' On — and like Sly's masterpiece, it's a seething caldron of psychedelic funk, but one laced with dub, jazz, and rock. Were it not for the jungle rhythms and wiry throbbing bass driving it, I would have sworn the ominously swirling dream-pop of "The Sloganeer: Paradise" was by the (early) Cocteau Twins, Essential Logic, or Laika. Ms. Meshell sings not only soothingly and seductively but also with wisdom, as if trying to change the world or her lover's mind with the right words and tone. The sultry "Evolution" recalls Jimi Hendrix's later, bluesier tunes, and "Article 3" rocks like recent Bowie at his best. Get aboard Starship Meshell, master of her and our universe.

 
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