While the first half of the album is a seamless, far-reaching critique ofreligious narrow-mindedness (homophobia in "Leviticus: Faggot," patriarchalprivilege and the emasculated black man on "Deuteronomy: Niggerman"),Ndeg=E9Ocello segues smoothly into a celebration of pure spirituality. Butit's a spirituality based on a lover's kind heart. Ndeg=E9Ocello is theultimate hopeless romantic. Even though racism, homophobia, self-hatred andsocial ostracism dog her spirit, she still croons sweetly to a lover in "ATear and a Smile."
By and large, the musical playfulness that leavened her 1993 debut,"Plantation Lullabies," is subdued here. While there's a dark slinkiness toNdeg=E9Ocello's cover of Bill Withers' "Who Is He and What Is He to You" anda '70s R&B; breeziness to the love songs "Stay" and "Bittersweet," PeaceBeyond Passion is mostly sober and somber. The slow to midtempo groovesecho the weariness of the lyrics; their heaviness evokes the high cost ofhard-earned peace and joy.
With intimacy and purposefulness, Ndeg=E9Ocello fulfills the promise ofher first album and puts the pop, hip-hop and R&B; worlds on notice: She'sone of th