Prince has reinvented himself once again. He has ditched the stiff drum-machine pop of his recent work in favor of a live and ferociously versatile band, creating his most organic and consistently innovative music since his genius output of the late-'80s.
Loaded with biblical references, the record opens with a stylish, jazzy groove under a sinister electronic voice setting the stage for the tale of the "Rainbow Children." It's deep, cryptic stuff - although thought-provoking all the same, touching on race relations, sexual roles and spirituality. Along the way, Prince is in fine form. He glides effortlessly from shades of James Brown to beautiful soul ballads to fantastical musical hybrids that defy comparison. The music here is bold, challenging and often wildly experimental. Production and musicianship is flawless. Standouts are too many to list. There are some bewildering and stunningly self-indulgent moments here and there, but it is never boring. Musically, the album is a mix of jazz, funk and Broadway musical with newcomers Najee and John Blackwell firmly making their mark. New girl group Milenia and Kip's vocals are also a revelation. Prince plays tribute to his musical heroes Miles Davis ('The Rainbow Children'),Andreas Vollenweider ('Digital Garden'), James Brown (on the dirty funk workout 'The Work Pt1'), and Stevie Wonder('Everywhere'). But he saves the best for last: the Sly Stone themed funk opus "The Everlasting Now" and the indefinable "Last December," which develops from a gentle ballad to screaming guitar rock. With The Rainbow Children, Prince reclaims his place as a peerless visionary of pop music.Overall, a daring album that deserves classic status