Meshell Ndegeocello

Peace Beyond Passion

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There are times on Me'Shell Ndegéocello's second album where the funky hybrid of R&B and alt-pop that she laid down on her 1993 debut, Plantation Lullabies, actually seems to take on an ethereal quality. Beats and grooves float effortlessly out of the fluid rhythms, and Ndegéocello herself sings with a soothing reserve that was a little too deliberate on her previous work. And it's a better album because of it. Peace Beyond Passion is built around a triumvirate of songs addressing man's inhumanity toward man throughout the ages (with such heavy-handed titles as "Deuteronomy: Niggerman" and "Leviticus: Faggot"), but the real highlights of the set are a wry take on Bill Withers' "Who Is He and What Is He to You" and the ultra-smooth, slow-burning "Stay." It's new age soul that's as spiritually purifying as it is musically sophisticated.

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