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.
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.