Home » Prince’s Unearthed, Disillusioned Funk, and 10 More New Songs

Prince’s Unearthed, Disillusioned Funk, and 10 More New Songs

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Prince recorded an album called “Welcome 2 America” in 2010, but shelved it before his death in 2016; his estate will release it in July. Maybe Prince decided the album was too bleak. Its title song is ominous, funky, seemingly improvisational and deeply cynical about an era of misinformation, exploitation and distraction. A pithy, stop-start bass line leaves space for dissonant little solos, while Prince’s vocals are deadpan spoken words: “Truth is a new minority.” He’s answered by women singing precise, jazzy harmonies and layering on more messages: “Land of the free, home of the brave,” they sing with a swinging lilt. “Oops, I mean, land of the free, home of the slave.” JON PARELES

The first single from the forthcoming Doja Cat album “Planet Her” features SZA and mixes the breeze of lite 1980s funk with the bawdiness of 2020s hip-hop, a juggling act that Doja Cat has pioneered, if not trademarked, by now. JON CARAMANICA

Crisply ecstatic new-wave R&B from the Toronto duo Majid Jordan. What’s most impressive about “Waves of Blue,” besides its spot on texture, is its modesty — the singer Majid Al Maskati doesn’t over-sing to emphasize his point, and the producer Jordan Ullman builds synths like pillars, unostentatiously building a whole world. CARAMANICA

“Shy Away,” the first song from a May album called “Scaled and Icy” from the genre-agnostic Ohio duo Twenty One Pilots, starts off as jittery electro before expanding into the dreamy, arms-outstretched pop that keeps arenas and hearts full. There’s a Strokesian energy to the track, but the lyrics don’t bristle with angst; they (not so gently) nudge a loved one to start on a new path. CARYN GANZ

Over the last decade, Miguel has placed his darkest thoughts and most experimental music on his series of “Art Dealer Chic” EPs; he released “Art Dealer Chic Vol. 4” on Friday. In “So I Lie,” he sings, in a soulful falsetto, about fear, pressure, and alienation from himself: “I can barely breathe, treading water/Smile on my face while I’m turning blue/Nobody cares, just work harder/I do what I can to avoid the truth.” The chorus, repeating, “Lie, lie, lie,” would almost be jaunty if it weren’t surrounded in swampy rhythms, wordless voices and hollow echoes, like all the anxieties he can’t evade. PARELES

A singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist hailing from St. Louis, Aaron Michael Frison has been making music as Coultrain for well over a decade, pulling together what sounds like a hybrid of the early 2000s Soulquarian scene, the spiritual jazz of Lonnie Liston Smith and the kind of dusty old Southern soul records that you’d find hiding in the dollar bin. On “The Essentials,” from his new album, “Phantasmagoria,” over a glutinous backing of synths, vocal overdubs, bass and drums, he professes his commitment (“’Cause there’s no other for me/It ain’t no coincidence that you reflect my eyes”) before dipping into a wily rap verse and capping things with a mystical choral passage that sounds a note of uncertainty: “I wish I could promise forever/If I could promise forever/I would promise forever to you,” he sings, the layers of his voice all in a conversation with each other. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Looming mortality becomes a refuge in “Calling Me Home,” written by the celebrated old-timey singer Alice Gerrard. It’s the sentiment of a man on his deathbed: “I miss my friends of yesterday.” The song provides the title for “They’re Calling Me Home,” the new album by the opera-trained singer, fiddler, banjo player and traditional-music explorer (and MacArthur “genius grant” recipient) Rhiannon Giddens with her partner, the early music expert Francesco Turrisi. She sings it in long-breathed lines, sometimes ended in Appalachian yips, accompanied by stark, unyielding drones, as if she’s a lone voice making itself heard before eternity. PARELES

An earnest power country slow-burner from the new duo Kat & Alex, who competed on “American Idol” last year, and who sing in both Spanish and English (though not here), “Heartbreak Tour” is delivered with soul music conviction and just the right touch of melodrama. CARAMANICA

The Chilean singer Mon Laferte infuses vintage styles with up-to-date sentiments and fierce attitude. Her new album, “Seis,” looks toward Mexican music, and she shares “La Mujer” (“The Woman”) with one of her idols: the Mexican singer and songwriter Gloria Trevi. They trade verses and share choruses in a bolero with punchy organ chords and rowdy horns, escalating from sultry self-confidence to unbridled fury at a man who’s getting decisively dumped: “Goodbye, sad coward,” is Laferte’s final sneer. PARELES

Over a slow-motion strut of a bass line and a glass of chardonnay in the lyrics, Queen Naija and Ari Lennox sweetly intertwine their voices, enjoying each other’s explicit details about their latest hookups. Then they realize it’s the same guy — and the conversation turns into a conspiracy to “Set Him Up.” Female solidarity reigns. PARELES

Riding a slick, whipsaw groove, “We Release” casually calls back to a mainstream jazz sound from the 1970s, while serving as a proud opening shot for Steve Slagle’s new album, “Nascentia.” Now 69, he composed and recorded all the material during the coronavirus pandemic, providing him a project and a jolt of energy amid trying times. An unerring optimism of spirit is palpable throughout, as he’s joined here by a number of fellow jazz veterans: Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, Clark Gayton on trombone, Bruce Barth on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass and Jason Tiemann on drums. RUSSONELLO

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