For more than ten years, Erykah Badu has been a staple of the neo soul genre. Dubbed the Queen of Neo Soul, Ms. Badu emerges after a two year hiatus with the second part to her New Amerykah. Named Return of the Ankh, the eleven song album mixes sampling, live instruments and Badu’s organic sound to create a downbeat experience.
The opener “20 Feet Tall,” is a varied exchange of soul and sonic jazz, while the album’s first single “Window Seat” hearkens back to that of “Back in the Day (Puff)” from 2003’s Worldwide Underground with its striking piano groove and sweet undercurrent of Badu’s smoldering vocal. It is evident Ms. Badu is comfortable in this zone as the cut is easy on the ears. The following song “Turn Me Away,” takes a relic from Sylvia Striplin’s “Can’t Turn Me Away,” which was also used on the Junior Mafia hit “Get Money.”
Erykah Badu approaches seductive precision on “Umm Hmm.” Hints of eccentricity and musical genius gush from the moment she takes to the mic, while “You Loving Me (Session),” is a quick blurb that manages to standout despite its length. “Out My Mind, Just in Time,” closes out New Amerykah (Return of the Ankh) and feels like a revisit to Baduizm with its overwhelming focus on beat. The long-run approach to the track is both favorable and noticeable.
The Queen of Neo-Soul has a gem on her hands that with enough polish in the sales department could go down as her finest work to date.
New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh receives a PARLÉ