How is an artist like Me’shell NdegéOcello defined? By her canon which extends over two-and-a-half decades, a dozen studio albums, and experimentation in seemingly every genre, all the while influencing the kick start of others? By her accolades including ten Grammy nominations, a number of Billboard Top 100's, and a long list of critically-acclaimed projects? By her socially conscious and politically motivated approach, her role as a trailblazer for women in music, her humanitarian work, and her leadership within the LGBT community?
With an artist so vast, it's better to just let the music do the speaking for her, and NdegéOcello’s new album, Ventriloquist, her first since 2014, is much more than simply well-spoken. It's a smooth, somber, downtempo collection of emotionally far-reaching tracks, performed, predominantly acoustically, with intent for reflection and forgiveness. Every song included is her take on an original released during the 80’s and 90’s, which range from pop to funk to R&B, but take on a new life in her steady hands. Altogether, the project has the ability to hit close to home for many and, sociopaths aside, is sure to draw emotion, perhaps even tears, from all who listen.
But it's not just a project for the lonely and longing, it boasts the significant musical prowess that is guaranteed with a NdegéOcello’s undertaking. The emotion of it all is simply and underlying driving theme providing purpose and impression.
They say great art comes on the heels of great tragedy, and though NdegéOcello’s delivery nods to that fact that she and the artists of the original tracklist, have perhaps experienced more than their fair share, Ventriloquism will long be celebrated as a triumph.