Meshell doesn’t let herself be boxed in one genre, as the concert reminded us. She joked about two albums that confused many listeners: Bitter and The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams. Both were leaps far outside of the expected, artistic risks that are filled with amazing music. The new songs draw on some of her earlier influences, such as the reggae rhythms that dominated Comfort Woman. There’s also a little touch of blues that feels like Bonnie Raitt at times. She’s always been a superb reinterpreter of other people’s music (the word “remake” doesn’t do her justice), and Comet includes a mind-bending version of Whodini’s “Friends” which was even more impressive live.
Following the concert, NPR’s Arun Rath interviewed Meshell and took questions from the audience (listen to the interview). She gave a thoughtful response to a question about changes in the music industry and listeners’ habits, explaining the importance of not being overly negative and keeping a non-judgmental attitude. One thing she finds challenging is engaging her fans through social media, as she tends to be a private, quiet person. She expressed surprise that people were actually interested in buying tickets and turning out for the event—she clearly doesn’t appreciate what an artistic treasure she is. She challenges us and our preconceptions. The more I listen to Comet, the more I’m drawn in to its sonic sensibilities, those that aren’t apparent in just one superficial listening, not quite like anything else yet unmistakably Meshell.