Neneh Cherry’s ’90s music was audacious, stylish, and profoundly influential. It would follow that her first solo record in 18 years is a revelatory collision of sonic invention and unique personal exploration. Recorded in five days with producer Four Tet and musical duo RocketNumberNine, the disc maintains a raw, improvisatory feel. Cherry’s sure song sense never wavers, though, as Four Tet strips the sound back to its rhythmic core while adding idiosyncratic yet complementary embellishments. “Across the Water” features Cherry’s poetic reflections on mortality and the future over spare drumbeats — so eloquently simple, so affecting. Cherry’s deeply intimate musings are driven by a tumultuous undercurrent on the title track. “Weightless” is a shape-shifting tour de force (cowbell!) featuring Cherry’s elusive, allusive lyrics floating as if in zero gravity. Cherry’s vocals have deepened but retain their sensuality and intensity. The glorious “Everything” overflows with spirited whimsy. While many songs are challenging, “Dossier” and “Out of the Black” are undeniable pop epiphanies. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Weightless”Ken Capobianco can be reached at email@example.com.