Non Merci (Hyperdrive Motivator Productions)
A Milwaukeean's residency in France is bound to have an effect on that artist's work. So it is with Melissa Czarnik, the rapper who now calls Brooklyn home. Her third album bears the imprint of time abroad between leaving Wisconsin and settling in New York. Non Merci finds Czarnik in a less overtly political mindset, more serene and even reveling a bit in the degree of celebrity she's achieved in the international alt hip-hop underground.
That serenity isn't only reflected in lyrics about being comfortable in her own skin and her relationship with beau/producer Eric Mire, but an expanded vocal repertoire that includes outright singing. Czarnik still expresses some unrequited longing, doubtless born of her exit from Milwaukee (which merits a number of its own) and her brother's recent death. And most of the album is steeped in piano arrangements that would make Chopin proud. Her artistic and emotional maturity are bearing fruit and deserve a wider audience, even if she's gone to a bigger city to pursue it.