As sinisterly ambiguous as its title, the primary theme of Meshell Ndegeocello's brand new album, Devil's Halo, is the treachery of love, which in her nearly unremittingly grim view leads to groveling, bitterness, even death. The lovers she describes are distraught with stark need, yet poison for one another. In "Blood on the Curb," they're caught in an evil web, one captivated by another who is also drawn in but ultimately feels nothing. Halo's sound is equally ambiguous. Compared to the complex eclecticism of recent Ndegeocello albums, including her 2007 tour de force, The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams, Halo relies on a relatively lean mix, the musicians mostly pared down to a quartet while Ndegeocello alternates funk pieces laced with pop hooks and soulful ballads. But as always with Ndegeocello, things are not that straightforward; the seemingly simple arrangements are full of quirky nuance. Even when she sings sweetly of love in a whispery passage, chances are that close behind is a bristling fusillade from the band and ominous portents of doom, as in opening track "Slaughter." $35 at 7 p.m.; $25 at 9:30 p.m. (Photo by scorpius73)
Sun., Oct. 18, 7 & 9:30 p.m., 2009
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