If you've been wondering where Prince has gone, he's re-signed with Warner Brothers Records after spending the last few years of sporadic independent releases. Now Prince has released two new albums simultaneously: Art Official Age appears under his own name, and PlectrumElectrum is the debut record of a Prince back-up band called 3rdEyeGirl, but it includes Prince's vocals, guitar, and production style throughout. Fresh Air critic Ken Tucker has a review of both albums.
One of America's great songwriters, Dan Penn, has written dozens of soul classics, often with keyboardist Spooner Oldham. For a while, the two were on the staff of Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Ace Records has just released an entire CD of Penn's demos.
On his first album since 2006, The 20/20 Experience, Justin Timberlake explores his range, from soul-man groove to falsetto croon, taking inspiration from neo-soul and the expansiveness of '60s and '70s rock song formats.
Spaghetti Westerns, Philadelphia soul, opera and the Wu-Tang Clan all come together in the music of Adrian Younge. He has produced and composed two new albums — one with William Hart, the lead singer of The Delfonics, and another with rapper Ghostface Killah.
Franklin found her voice in songs such as "I Never Loved a Man" for Atlantic Records in the 1960s. Before Atlantic, however, Franklin recorded for Columbia, and in those early recordings you can hear the legend just beginning to emerge.
From the inescapable "Call Me Maybe" to Fiona Apple's intricate word puzzles to the strikingly gorgeous return of Iris DeMent, the Fresh Air critic counts down hiss favorite albums and musical moments of the year.
Memphis has been a music town since anyone can remember, and it's had places to record that music since there have been records. Some of its studies -- Sun, Stax and Hi -- are well-known, but American Studios produced its share of hits, and yet remains obscure.