André Cymone was part of Prince’s pre-Revolution backing band and went on to release a small handful of solo albums – a part of the Minneapolis sound and then to a personal and professional relationship with Jody Watley, notching up hits with her and writing songs for the likes of Tiffany, Jermaine Stewart, Adam Ant and Pebbles.
The return of Cymone with this full-lengther (on the back of a 2014 EP) is one of the year’s more intriguing “comebacks” – reminding, in part, of when Lenny Kravitz was a credible rock-funk superstar on cuts like the time-warping knees-up of opener We All Need Somethin’, the social commentary of Money and the close-your-eyes-it’s-Lenny California Way.
Cymone is in good voice, there’s a crunch to the bass and plenty of fuzz on the guitars – subverted rockabilly drives Already There, Point And Click feels like mid-90s Prince – and then we get to the album’s political (and musical) centre-point: Black Lives Matter. Again, it’s shades of his old boss in the near-messianic delivery tone, and clean-angled funk. The political lyrics – social anxiety and frustration, racism and activism – are just the start of the call-out, it’s far more devastating on Black Man In America. This sounds like Lee Fields and D’Angelo reworking Curtis Mayfield, there’s a tone of reflection to this one similar to Prince’s final recorded music too.
The title track continues the tone of reflection before we’re bac in the Kravitz/Prince world for close, Is That You.
No one could have expected new music from Cymone in 2017 – certainly not new music with a vital pulse and valid concerns. Mark this one under strange and brilliant comebacks. A very good record. A nice surprise that calls back to his earlier work but shows he’s in no way trapped by the music he made in his youth.