A new song by Kelis “‘Milkshake’” Rogers hit Soundcloud earlier this week. Though first posted as “Call on Me,”it now seems Ms. Rogers prefers “Jerk Ribs.” It marks another major change of direction for the chameleonic singer/songwriter, as well as a return to music after a two-year absence.
Masterminded by Dave Sitek (yes, Mr. Sitek on the Radio), the groove, from the outset, is hard to parse. It’s equal parts “The Way You Make Me Feel” shuffle and uptempo Afrobeat, and it takes a minute to figure out the best pulse to nod your head to. The chorus is driven by a triumphant horn line straight off a Commodores record and carefully blended synth pads- the sort you’d expect from that guy who produced that Tom Waits ScarJo album.
When coupled with cathartic (though nebulous) lyrics, it reaches its full potential: “Feels just like it should, we got this/This is what it looks like/So call on me.” “Call On Me”/”Jerk Ribs” sounds like a lost ’80s soul single, one you’d find behind some scratched-up Nona Hendryx and Stacy Lattisaw records in a vinyl dollar bin, while somehow remaining totally of the current cultural moment. Fans of everyone from Jessie Ware to Janelle Monae to #beyonce will find something to love here.