Recently, Prince released his 25th official studio album under the meta-title LOtUSFLOW3R. The reason I say meta-title is because the package actually includes 3 disks that include the title CD, another Prince album titled MPLSoUND and Elixer, a debut disk from his most recent protégé Bria Valente. In this review, I will be taking a look at the title disk alone as these really are three very separate and very different albums that deserve (using this term only to denote difference, not quality) their own space.
Prince has always been able to mix, layer and turn upside down a variety of musical influences, while still putting his own unique stamp on them and here he whips these blades out with the ease of a swiss army knife. It is quite amazing actually and it will take several listens to understand the breadth of them all.
The album starts out with the jazzy instrumental track “From the Lotus…”. Starting out with a vocal free track clearly signals that you are about to be taken on a journey that never lets up, moving you effortlessly from track to track.
“Boom” shifts easily from lazy singsong to guitar forward stomp. Then a segue into an adept cover of “Crimson and Clover”, with a bit of “Wild Thing” thrown in the middle, just to prove to you he can own it.
“4Ever” is one of Prince’s best stabs at a gospel tinged love hymn. He seems to do one just about every album so to call it out as one of the best (“Willing and Able” probably occupying the top spot) is really saying something.
“Colonized Mind” is exactly the sort of revolutionary political R+B that could have been done just as easily by and artist like Lauryn Hill.
From there, the album begins to shift towards a more party groove. “Feel Good, Feel Better, Feel Wonderful” is the first dance jam of the disk and the closest to anything that might resemble anything on it radio single friendly.
“Love Like Jazz” is the sort of lazy bossanova one might have expected during Sérgio Mendes’s time. This is further punctuated by the next track, an instrumental spanish serenade titled “77 Beverly Park”
This is followed by another two straight out jams, “Wall of Berlin” and “$” which is a metaphor for “…the most popular girl in the whole wide world”.
“Dreamer” is clearly a gracious nod to the flower power soul rock that inspired it. Jimi, Ike and Tina would all be proud.
The album closes with a further take on the instrumental that starts off the album to remind you of the journey you are now leaving.
I will end by saying that LOtUSFLOW3R is probably one of Prince’s strongest offerings in years and it alone is worth the package price. Consider the other two disks, which I hope to review in the near future, an added bonus.