Prince gave exclusively to The Current, a Minnesotta public radio show, a new song called Cause & effect. I embed here the player provided by them:
So after a few listens these are my first feelings:
First the good news: compared to Purple & gold, Cause & effect is almost a masterpiece. But that goes without saying, as Purple & gold is at the very bottom.
Then the bad news: compared to the man's abilities (let alone the man's back catalogue of songs), this is weak-to-average; we have other songs in similar veins, and besides this is not one of those perfect singles (Guitar for instance). The best I could say is that this song flows nicely.
But the key here is the "been there/done that" feeling once you finish listening. This is the very same syndrome I had when listening to Lotus flow3r.
In fact, yesterday, during my trip to Sevilla, I was listening to Van Hunt's unreleased "Popular", an album I had not listened to as I should when I got it. And it was curious, as I had a clear feeling: you can hear much fresher, newer, more exciting sounds in "Popular" than in any of the recent Prince albums, with only a few exceptions. Yet the sounds don't move my guts, I see no great songs in "Popular". By contrast, the sound in, say, Lotus flow3r is known to all of us: it is Prince-by-numbers, to the point that I appreciated more the songs (and the overall vibe) from Bria's album. And still, Lotus flow3r contains masterpieces as "Colonized mind" that are clearly lacking in "Popular".
D'Angelo said it many years ago: he could save Prince's sound, putting it where it should be in 2010. And it sounds a bit pretentious, but I'm convinced he was right. Prince has a clear need (almost an urgence) to renew his sound, to evolve and explore new territories like he used to, like he pioneered in the 80. But unfortunately his ego won't let him walk that way and reach the levels of excellence he could reach if he opened the doors and clear air entered inside. In that respect he should learn from some of his recognized masters: Miles for instance.
Back on topic, we have a small appetizer of things to come; let's cross fingers and hope this was just an exercice of Prince the gymnast, who wanted to get the muscles in shape before going for the real meat.