1994 was a strange time for Prince. I know, his name wasn’t Prince at the time. He was O(+>. Whatever. Prince is easier to type. You know who I’m talking about. Yes, he had changed his hame. He had spent years taking a blowtorch to any brides he had with his record label, Warner Brothers. His last two albums had produced hits, but not like he had ten years earlier. Hip hop had taken over pop culture and left Prince in its wake.
In the midst of that period Prince quietly released his 15th album, Come. It was the first Prince album since before 1999 that I had no knowledge of. Keep in mind, I was six years old when he released 1999. I’m sorry I missed Controversy when I was in kindergarten. You get my point. Come had as little fanfare with it as any Prince album. If you listen to it you’ll understand why. This is the first Prince album that sounded like it could’ve been produced by someone else. Some of it is just bland. Prince’s brilliant musicianship is replaced with beats and music that sounded like they were just trying to fit in with what was big in 1994.
That’s not to say the album is bad. I expect more from Prince. There are some solid songs on it even if there are no real standouts. I take that back. “Dark” is a really cool song. That’s not what I’m here for today, though. My giant Excel spreadsheet of Prince songs randomly spit out “Solo” today. What a strange, unique song. The story is that Prince was moved by the play M. Butterfly. He reached out to playwright Henry David Hwang to gauge interest in working on something together. He asked Hwang to write him a poem to use as a spoken interlude in a song. Hwang obliged, and a few days later Prince had taken his poem and turned it in to a song. Instead of an interlude, Prince turned Hwang’s poem in to a haunting, stunning vocal performance backed by nothing more than some storm sound effects and what sounds like a harp. It is a unique track on a mostly forgettable album.
I wouldn’t bump “Solo” in my car or at a party unless I was trying to piss people off, but if you’re going for a super chill, haunting vibe it’s perfect. I’ll give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.