Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  Expert Witness
Books:
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
  Archive
Venues:
  Noisey
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:
***1/2

ME'SHELL NDEGéOCELLO
Bitter
Maverick

Give Me'Shell Ndegéocello credit for following her druthers. The third album of her six-year career could conceivably become a cult item, even a major hit. But Bitter so thoroughly ignores the art-funk that made her famous that I can't imagine she worried about its commercial prospects. Although the music is slow, confessional, with Lisa Coleman's piano overwhelming Ndegéocello's bass, it's nowhere near as static and stolid as the Roberta Flack and Tracy Chapman it evokes. Unprepossessing at first, the melodies steadily gain resonance as the arrangements flower out into a jazzlike responsiveness. And the worst you can say about the lyrics is that in this context "To wish for wine in her empty kiss" packs some wallop. Every one of these songs is about love, usually love thwarted by psychological disability. But the observation is stark and the music felt enough to render them vivid sketches rather than a new bunch of tales from the woe-is-me factory.

Rolling Stone, Aug. 5, 1999