Janelle Monae. Electric Lady.

When I went into HMV on release day to pick up Janelle Monae’s new album I couldn’t find it.  I was sure I’d got the date right so I went up to the counter to ask if they had it.  They did, but as the assistant explained;

“We’ve only been sent a few copies.  Not enough to put in the new release display.  Don’t understand why.”

Me neither.

Monae’s credentials are exemplary.  Not only is she on the uber trendy Bad Boy label ,but her guests include Prince, Esperanza Spalding and Eryka Badu.

Monae’s debut, concept record The Archandroid, was outstanding.  Her live gigs are priceless and this, her second release, is even better.  It too is a concept album and billed as the prequel to Archandroid

The style of the album draws from many great sources; part Outkast (speakerbox) but more 70’s Motown, especially Marvin Gaye and Stevie at his best it has a steady groove that feels timeless

Her duet with Prince on “Givin Em What They Love” is as good as anything Prince has ever done.  Throughout he is massively overshadowed nby Moane as she digs deep into her chest voice.  It’s classic Prince rock’n’roll R and B but is by no means the only stand out track on an album chock full of nuggets.

We were Rock and Roll’s opening chords are straight out of  Bobby Womack’s 108th Street.  It tingles.  The song moves onto what sounds like a stonewall hit.

But Monae don’t do hits.

Why not?  I have no idea.