2016.06.01

昨年末の配信作がフィジカルでも一般流通を開始。〈Phase One〉がジョシュア・ウェルトンとの共作による新しめの楽曲メインだったのに対し、こちらは“Rocknroll Loveaffair”(2012年)や、もともと80年代に書かれた“Xtraloveable”(2011年)など数年前の既発曲を軸に、近年のライヴで育ててきたナンバー群を一本の流れに織り上げた印象だ。冒頭を飾るのは、黒人青年の死亡事件とそれに伴う暴動に即反応した“Baltimore”(エリン・アレン・ケインをフィーチャー)。プロテスト・ソングながらも緊張を緩和するような同曲の軽やかさは、トラディショナルなソウル・レヴューっぽさで飾られたアルバム全体の肩肘張らない開放感にも繋がっている。全編で人懐っこいホーンが貢献し、“Kiss”と“Sexy Dancer”のフレーズを挿入した“Stare”が象徴する余裕と遊び心もナイス。レディシ客演のブライトな終曲“Big City”が今後も続くサーキットを予告するかのようで、まるで途中経過みたいなラスト・アルバム。

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Initially released exclusively on a digital streaming service at the end of 2015, the late music legend, Prince’s newest is now physically available in CD format. While the previous “Phase One” (co-produced by Joshua Welton) mainly carried relatively new creations, this latest gives the impression that the fruits of his recent live performance are in effect to complete one consistent stream, being based upon the redeveloped versions of already-released tracks over the past few years like “Rocknroll Loveaffair”(2012) or “Xtraloveable”(2011) that was originally written in the 80’s. The opener of the album is “Baltimore (featuring up-and-coming musician Eryn Allen Kane)” ―a track written as an immediate response to the death incident of a young black man and riots that followed. Though a protest song, the tension-easing light tune takes a lead of the relaxingly open feeling tinged with an air of a traditional soul revue that runs through the entire album. Thanks to the friendly horn overdubs everywhere and phrases from “Kiss” and “Sexy Dancer” thrown in, the track “Stare” especially and nicely represents the confidence and playfulness of the artist. The bright ending track “Big City” (featuring guest singer Ledisi on background vocals) seems almost as if it were portending the many more years to come, making this final album sound very much like (his) work is ‘still-in-progress’. 

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