Miguel

Soul singer and songwriter Miguel always sounds like he’s just discovered the joy in possessing his talents. On “Pineapple Skies,” the second song on his latest record, he launches into the verses like an airplane kissing the runway goodbye, putting the full weight of his vocal capabilities behind the refrain of “Pineapple purple skies/Promise everything gon’ be all right.” That line serves two functions: It slyly lets us know that he’s aiming to honor the tradition that Prince left behind, and that he’s here to lift our spirits in what has been a difficult political year, particularly for many people with names like “Miguel.” While there are no songs here that replicate the perfect pop confection of his 2012 hit “Adorn” — although the sensual lilt of “Banana Clip” comes close — he paints in Prince-like splashes of psychedelic guitar and offbeat creative decisions. He utilizes evocative nonsense words like “splish” as punctuation marks in “Sky Walker,” and lets sputtering electronic beats guide him in “Told You So.” Lyrically, he’s got a forward-looking, positive lens, serving up love and sex as a main course, with politics as a side dish. In the album’s closing song, “Now,” he pauses to reflects on the black- and brown-skinned victims of state violence before transforming his racial identity into a source of strength, pointing out that “We are the look of freedom/We are the sound of freedom.”