new music: stream andré cymone’s first album in over 25 years. #soundcheck

February 28, 2014

Though he’s spent 25 years out of the limelight, André Cymone was once heralded as the heir to Prince’s throne. Prince penned childhood best friend Cymone’s biggest hit “The Dance Electric,” and Cymone cut his teeth as Prince’s bassist. When Cymone left the band in 1981, he embarked on a successful solo career. Then in the mid 80’s, he moved behind the console to work as a songwriter and producer. It’s now been 29 years since his last album, but André Cymone is back with the electrifying The Stone.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

In an age where “sounds like Prince” is the general description half the indie scene is going for, it’s almost startling how little interest Cymone has in revisiting the heavy synth pop sound he helped pioneer. Instead, The Stone is bursting with old school rock gems that look back to the mid-60’s and early 70’s. Shadows of Jimi Hendrix, The Stones, Zeppelin, The Zombies, and early Funkadelic loom over The Stone. Opener “Rock and Roll” announces his intentions loudly and clearly. This is an album about celebrating the simple joys of the rock and roll Cymone grew up on.

That childhood pops its head up on the heartbreaking “One Day.” It’s impossible not to see the song as an open letter to Prince. “We were close like a hand in close / shared the bond of a brother’s love / now we don’t have a word to say / one day.” Prince moved in with Cymone’s family after running away from his father and was treated as the family’s 7th child.

While Cymone keeps one eye towards the past (particularly on the 60’s jangle-pop throwback “If Not For You”), his feet are planted firmly in the present. “People of the 99 / we gotta stand up and fight” he sings on the world-weary but still optimistic “American Dream.” Cymone’s song for Trayvon Martin (which he wrote to raise money for Trayvon’s family) is tragically missing from this album.

But it’s in the songs without a clear old school rock and roll antecedent that Cymone shines the brightest. “The Horseman” pays a surprisingly heartfelt tribute to Ennio Morricone. And the true standout is the stunning alt-folk song “It’s Alright.” It’s the simplest and most direct track on the album. If there’s a criticism to The Stone, it’s that the genre tributes can sometimes feel like Cymone is trying something on for size. On “It’s Alright,” it’s all Cymone. Far too many write ups of André Cymone talk about the potential he had in his youth. What he could be, or could have been. With “It’s Alright” we get to hear who he is. And it’s incredible.

Download The Stone here.