Meshell Ndegeocello credits a move from Manhattan to upstate New York for the austere sound of her just-released eighth album, "Devil's Halo."
"I live in a really small town called Hudson," says Ndegeocello, 41, a singer, songwriter and bassist who's staked her reputation on sprawling and experimental genre-blending material. "It's a town with a prison and a lot of watering holes. So I've got a lot of quiet time to sit with myself.
"And when I moved I didn't have a lot of equipment, so I just started playing a lot of guitar, and the (album) is definitely a reflection of getting back to guitar and back to basics in my writing style."
Ndegeocello kept the recording just as stripped down, co-producing with guitarist Chris Bruce and working mostly with a quartet, live in the studio, during a quick five-day session.
"A lot of the bass and drum and guitar tracks are first or second takes," says the songstress, whose partner will be giving birth to Ndegeocello's second son (her older boy is 21) in November. "We all felt really good. It was nice to get back to that process and not be locked into ProTools and editing. It was a big inspiration for what we did."
Meshell Ndegeocello performs at 8 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 15) at the Music Hall Center, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $27. Call (313) 887-8500 or visit www.musichall.org.