© 2024 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A Bulletproof Diva Spells Out 'L.O.V.E.'

Sometimes, even the most assiduous socio-political commentators rejoice in the brighter side of life. "L.O.V.E.," the divine closing track on Ursula Rucker's Ma'at Mama, may come as a surprise to those accustomed to her incendiary prose: After tackling everything from gang violence to the No Child Left Behind program, Rucker offers a moment of respite.

Here, she retreats from provocative accounts of rape and revenge or apocalyptic tales of global decay, as she intones over a jazzy groove, "On this day, there will be no talk of war, or politic, or disaster, or death / Love is alive today, so we will speak only of love." Still, Rucker refuses to delve into the mawkish. As the music crests with grinding electric guitars, she adheres to her no-nonsense outlook: "It won't be that Hollywood type of love / Not TV love, not dime-store-novel love, and certainly not mainstream-music love."

To Rucker, real love is the kind "that has been worked on like gardens and term papers" and "that falls, crashes, even burns, but dusts off, fixes up, and rises, rises more brilliant than before." Through her crisp enunciation and strident rhythmic flow, Rucker still comes across as a bulletproof diva, even as "L.O.V.E." provides a glimpse of vulnerability.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

John Murph
John Murph writes about music and culture and works as a web producer for BETJazz.com. He also contributes regularly to The Washington Post Express, JazzTimes, Down Beat, and JazzWise magazines.