The Electric Lady
Tuxedo-wearing R&B singer Janelle Monae burst into the British consciousness three years ago when she gave a quite extraordinary performance of Tightrope, from her 2010 album The ArchAndroid, on Later With Jools Holland. Now 27, she releases the follow-up and once again the shadow of Prince falls over it. And not just his shadow either: the man himself appears on Givin Em What They Love, providing Monae with a seal of approval she doesn't need, but won't mind having. Other helpmates include the great Erykah Badu and Solange Knowles (sister of Beyonce). Monae is no Prince copyist, however. Mentored initially by Atlanta rappers OutKast, her work lies within an over-arching mythos about female cyborgs and The Electric Lady is billed as parts four and five of her ongoing Metropolis project. Ignore the grand concept, however, and The Electric Lady still stands solid enough: an accessible pop album with disparate influences - electro-funk, punk, rockabilly, gospel, jazz and 1950s-style cha-cha - but a single direction of travel.