Creative mastermind, Prince, returns to the fold with his long-awaited release, “Art Official Age.” The album opens with all the loopiness and excitement we’ve come to expect from the purple wonder. On “Art Official Cage” Prince attempts to break free from the musical constraints of today’s society and recreate a time when music actually had value. He makes an excellent point. You can’t hold a download in your hand or pass an MP3 down to your kids. Music has truly become…disposable. Don’t anticipate on having to slog through a downer of a track. The message is gift-wrapped in the kind of dance funk packaging that only Prince can deliver. “Clouds” begins with someone rifling through radio stations until they discover a superior groove expertly crafted by the Minneapolis superstar. Prince still hasn’t come to terms with the changing times – “In this brand new age we do everything quick, fast, in a hurry,” but “luckily” for him, he wakes up from suspended animation midway through the song to discover he’s in a place where time no longer exists.
“Breakdown” ranks as one of Prince’s top ballads…and that’s saying a lot because any true fan knows he has A LOT of them. The “Sign O’ The Times” singer broods over lost love and recounts how he “used to want the house with the biggest pool/ I been missin’ out, now I feel like a fool.” “The Gold Standard” is exactly as advertised – the upper echelon of dance floor supremacy, while “U Know” displays Prince’s sing-rap technique at its finest. “Breakfast Can Wait” is the song everyone should wake up to each morning to get their day started on the right foot. On another note, “This Could Be Us” sounds like it was transmitted from outer space with Prince playing the role of alien visitor to our humble planet. Don’t worry, he comes in peace. What do we get out of the deal? A lifetime of great music, of course.
“What It Feels Like” describes the emotional roller coaster ride that occurs “when a boy ain’t got his girl.” “Affirmation 1 & 2” finds a female voice instructing Prince on “proper behavior” in the new society…but all he wants to do is find his “Way Back Home.” “FunkNRoll” is a colossal party jam in which Prince plays with the pitch of his voice and throws everything into the mix, including the kitchen sink! This leads back into a running theme of the album…”Time.” Prince appears to have found it with his romantic interest in the song and the audience as well. The female voice on “Affirmation 3” telepathically communicates to Prince that “there really is only one destination…and that destination is you.” True indeed. Listeners are always willing to pay attention to an artist…in this case, THE artist…a passionate, expressive innovator whose legacy of ground-breaking music is timeless.
– Kevin Keith