We Are Alive
It’s safe to say that Ethiopian-born and San Francisco–based singer Meklit (pr. Muh-kleet) Hadero is running in fast company. The TED fellow’s second album is produced by Eli Crews (tUnE-yArDs, Deerhoof), with liner notes by novelist Walter Mosley. Her music recalls Joni Mitchell’s wordy playfulness as her voice jumps from breathy falsetto to warm earthy moans with a singular sense of style. Here, Meklit is ably supported with a strong backbone of jazz with the soloing of trumpeter Darren Johnson, the cavernous acoustic bass of Sam Bevan, and the steady drumming of Lorca Hart. There are a few well-chosen covers: the rock-jazz take on The Police’s “Bring on the Night” and the traditional Ethiopian folk song “Kemekem (I Like Your Afro),” which features a gritty electric piano solo from Samuel Yirga. But the meat of this album comes from Meklit's ancient-to-the-future originals, with standouts like the carnivalesque “Stuck on the Moon,” the funky-folky “Slow,” and the electro-acoustic “In Sleep.” As a singer who had an early reputation as a star on the rise, Meklit has climbed another rung on the ladder.