Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 (2017 Remastered)

Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 (2017 Remastered)

100 Best Albums: No. 91 After proving the depth, scope, and maturity of his songwriting with an unassailable debut, George Michael released his second solo album, which feels like a pointed gear change. True, there is “Freedom! ’90”, a bright, piano-driven single designed to deftly skewer both the emerging age of music video culture and Michael’s own conflict about the way the Faith era had almost turned him into a piece of caricatured public property. Nonetheless, the pervading mood of Listen Without Prejudice is one of subtlety, political consciousness, and emotional desolation. Woodwinds evoke sparse battlefields (“Mothers Pride”), echo adds ghostly desperation (most notably on the spine-tingling Stevie Wonder cover, “They Won’t Go When I Go”), and windblown acoustic guitar nods to folk (“Something to Save”). Crowned by the grand, Lennon-ian sweep of “Praying for Time,” it is a quietly radical, deeply affecting creative progression—the sound of an artist retreating from pop’s synth-driven orthodoxy into something touched by timelessness, profundity, and, in almost every sense, real soul.

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