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Me'Shell Ndegéocello

Even after four solid, gorgeous CDs, Ndegéocello is relatively overlooked by consumers and critics. This new album, marked by fantastic musicianship and pulsating sexual energy, should rectify that. Comfort Woman is a cool-weather disc, perfect for generating heat between lovers. It opens with an invitation, "Love Song #1," in which Ndegéocello encourages you to "stir it up, nice and slow," building up a dragging reggae riff. But the Caribbean allusions only prime the puff for the second track, "Come Smoke My Herb," in which the listener enters a new cosmic zone where sensuality and spirituality merge. The guitar wah-wahs and the bass-line pimp strolls of "Body" are reminiscent of Marvin Gaye's mid-'70s albums -- all soul and sexual urgency. "Love Song #3" has traces of Prince circa 1982, but Ndegéocello's bass lines and Doyle Bramhall's guitar noodlings take the song toward her signature "funkdamentals." It's a perfect fit in the disc player after, say, Al Green's Let's Stay Together and Sade's Lover's Rock -- transitioning perfectly from soul to electronica/dub- infused R&B to cosmic reggae for 21st-century lovers.

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