Erykah Badu, ‘New AmErykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh’ (Universal Motown)
Erykah Badu has always been elusive — this is just her fifth full-length since 1997 — but when she surfaces, she stuns. If 2008’s extraordinary New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War was a lunar journey laced with P-Funk absurdism, then Part Two is earthbound and elemental. Often plainspoken and unguarded — “I pray for you, crochet for you,” she sings, delicately on the 10-minute closer, “Out of My Mind Just In Time” — this is Badu’s version of lover’s rock. It’s not simple or adoring — she plays a hustler’s loyal moll and a greedy ex with equal aplomb. Typical Erykah Badu: committed, but impossible to pin down.