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How do we conduct ourselves in extraordinary times? By what metric do we judge our own capacity to make change? In an era where the signal-to-noise ratio is more uneven than ever, what are the measures we must take to retain and remember our own personhood? Neneh Cherry’s extraordinary fifth solo album, Broken Politics (produced by Kieran Hebden), asks these questions and moresearching for answers, patiently and with great care, and with a fearlessness to acknowledge that sometimes the answers don’t even exist. It’s a record that’s equal parts angry, thoughtful, melancholy, and emboldening, as Cherry and her collaborators (Massive Attack’s 3D, Cameron McVey) continue to expand her ever-widening sonic palette to craft truly singular and potent electronic pop.
The complex audacities of Broken Politics highlight that Cherry’s collaborators on the album are compatriots in that fight, too. “The thing I love the most about our creativity is our harness,” Cherry enthuses about writing with McVey, who she’s worked with since previous to her iconic 1989 debut Raw Like Sushi. “It was an honest journey.” “Neneh’s a songwriter’s songwriter,” McVey states. “Our creative partnership is a trip. Its a magical journey weve been on for many years now, yet she never ceases to amaze me with her sweet words & melodies.”
And Hebden was as instrumental to Broken Politics’ creation, contributing the entirety of production to the album. “She had rough chords and vocals already done for songs and she would send me demos of these recorded at home or even just on her phone sometimes,” Hebden explains. “I would then come up with an arrangement and instrumentation for the track and we got together in the studio and recorded vocals over my arrangement.”
“It was a joy that he wanted to make another record with me,” she says about working with the reputed producer. “He’s serious in the most beautiful wayhe only does something when he really wants to do it. His heart goes into what he’s doing, and he thinks beyond the songs.”