“Musicology” (NPG/Columbia)

Once again Prince sings and plays all the instruments. But this time out, he took time to craft terrific songs, all of which are better than most of what passes for contemporary soul and r&b, and some of which vie with the best of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee’s output. He’s toned down the weirdness and shock factor, in favor of old-school soul grooves, distinctive musical textures and flavors, and a clear attempt at recapturing the legacy of Stevie Wonder he long ago seemed to have abandoned. In spite of its political naivete, “Cinnamon Girl” is as infectious a pop song as he’s delivered in two decades. [ 5/2/04 ]

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