Prince’s Posthumous ‘Deliverance’ EP is Greatness Worth Hearing [REVIEW]
On the cusp of the one year anniversary of Prince's death, a new EP was announced. That six song project, Deliverance, captures the late genius' gift for re-inventing classic rock sounds and merging them with out-of-this world, soulful melodies. Prince worked on the songs with engineer Ian Boxill between 2006 and 2008, but, somewhat predictably, the release of the tracks was met with litigation from the late musician's estate.
Boxill decided to finish the project after Prince's death, and the EP consists of the title track and a four-tune-medley called "Man Opera" — that includes "I Am," "Touch Me," "Sunrise Sunset," "No One Else" with an extended version of "I Am" as the closer.
The entire project is driven by religious themes; the title track features Prince encouraging people to lose their indifference when it comes to accepting God, and he uses soft piano keys and a muted electric guitar to convey his message. "This is not religion but common sense / It's time to get down, get down, get off the fence," he sings in his signature falsetto.
Later in the song, Prince touches on society's ills and man's occasional cruelness to his fellow man. He uses the botched rescue efforts during the first few days of Hurricane Katrina to illustrate his point.
The song, as well as the entire EP, is straightforward in terms of the catchy riffs and melodies used. Yet, in true Prince fashion, it still manages to push musical boundaries. On the funk-rock rager "I Am," Prince pulls from the Old Testament Biblical passage, where God tells Moses "I Am Who I Am," meaning He existed before anything else was created.
"Before there was anything at all He was / Winter, spring, summer or fall, He was," crooned the Minneapolis native, over backing music that pays homage to 70s rock.
From there, "I Am" bleeds right into "Man Opera" portion of the EP with the song "Touch Me," a gorgeous track that perfectly balances string sounds with an acoustic guitar. Then later in the song Prince hits listeners with his masterful guitar work over huge, beating percussion before the song ends.
According to Rolling Stone, the singer and multi-instrumentalist wrote these six songs while he was still an independent artist, which is ironic since they all have a radio-friendly, palatable feel to them. If nothing else, the EP proves that Prince didn't need the direction of a record label to churn out music that's easily digestible but still conveys a message.
A perfect example of that is "Sunrise Sunset," where the gifted artist uses a beautiful sweeping chorus to express devotion. Afterwards, on "No One Else," Prince uses a slow, bluesy guitar sound to express loyalty of love, while mixing sexuality and spiritually, treading similar territory as his classic 1987 ballad "Adore."
"Prince once told me that he would go to bed every night thinking of ways to bypass major labels and get his music directly to the public," said Boxill. "When considering how to release this important work, we decided to go independent, because that's what Prince would have wanted."
Deliverance is more than a mere EP. It's documentation of what Prince believed spiritually and musically, and he seemingly carried those beliefs with him to his very last day. This project was yanked almost as quickly as it was announced (as of press time, only the title track remains available on iTunes), but it's a stirring reminder of an artist's ongoing vitality in his latter years.
Long live the Purple One.