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CD Reviews

Review: Lenny Kravitz Is On Autopilot On 'Strut'

September 29th, 2014 3:45pm EDT
Review: Lenny Kravitz Is On Autopilot On 'Strut'
At 50, Lenny Kravitz has been around for a minute – a ‘lengthy’ minute to be exact. Even though Kravitz’s heyday has passed, age truly “ain’t nothing but a number” on his exhilarating new album, Strut. Arriving three-years after sensation LP Black and White America, Kravitz’s consistency and energy are nothing short of magnificent.

Strut opens ferociously with standout single “Sex,” which is an incredibly funky, attention-getting record. “Got that feelin’ coming over me / sex, sex, sex,” Kravitz sings enthusiastically on the catchy, rocking chorus.

Kravitz remains on autopilot o...
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Review: Jennifer Hudson's Vocals Remain Impressive On ‘JHUD’

September 24th, 2014 12:30pm EDT
Jennifer Hudson
How many people would’ve predicted that a big-voiced R&B diva like Jennifer Hudson would release a dance R&B album? The better question might be, who would’ve guessed someone as remarkably talented as Jennifer Hudson would’ve only made seventh place on American Idol, let alone been voted off at all? Don’t shed tears for Hudson, as her entertainment career has easily atoned for an untimely exit on Idol – namely in the form of an Academy Award (Dreamgirls) and Grammy (for Best R&B album for Jennifer Hudson).

Now on album three, the established R&B chanteuse, who’s dropped two gold albums, ...
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Review: Barbra Streisand Sounds Amazing On 'Partners'

September 22nd, 2014 7:20pm EDT
Barbra Streisand - Partners
Nothing better than getting “a little help from friends” right? That’s exactly what veteran entertainer Barbra Streisand does on her latest studio album, Partners. Why go it alone when you can enlist the likes of Michael Bublé, Stevie Wonder, and Billy Joel on your album? Covering classics she popularized (such as “The Way We Were”) as well as classic vocal standards, Partners is a truly beautiful effort with Streisand herself sounding truly amazing. 72 – she can’t be!

Partners opens stunningly with standard “It Had To Be You” with Michael Bublé serving as Streisand's partner in c...
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Review: After Many Delays Chris Brown's 'X' Is Stronger Than Expected

September 18th, 2014 3:30pm EDT
Chris Brown - X
What’s a deadly disease that damages a musician’s career? The correct answer is the delayed album. Sure, controversy does the same (Chris Brown might know something about that), but the delayed album can be truly devastating. Brown’s sixth studio album X has been delayed several times. That said, even at its most imperfect, X is better than previous LP Fortune. Not only was Fortune filled with curse words, it also incited curse words…

"X" opens the effort mysteriously, gradually evolving into electro-R&B. It sports repetition and gimmickry commonplace to contemporary R&B and pop. Eve...
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Review: Jhené Aiko Maintains Poise On 'Souled Out'

September 15th, 2014 2:27pm EDT
Review: Jhené Aiko Maintains Poise On 'Souled Out'
Jhené Aiko definitely takes a different approach than many female R&B artists. Rather than delivering big, dramatic vocals, Aiko takes a cool, calm, and more poised approach. This contrast sets her apart, but at times, also leaves the listener desiring Aiko to push just a bit more. Still, her first full-length album for Def Jam has plenty to offer, showcasing Aiko’s tremendous artistic potential.

“She was born in limbo,” sings Aiko, “With the need to be as simple / as her makers and the made up things she dreamed.” “Limbo Limbo Limbo” kicks off the contemporary, alt-R&B affair uniquel...
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Review: Lecrae Delivers Prudent, Inspiring Messages on 'Anomaly'

September 10th, 2014 11:45am EDT
Review: Lecrae Delivers Prudent, Inspiring Messages on 'Anomaly'
Hip-hop and religion seem to be on opposite sides of the spectrum. That’s not speculating upon religious or nonreligious stance of rappers, but rather church and rap seem to have little in common. Few rappers spread spiritual messages through their music – most are spitting about hook ups, the club, and the cash flow. Likewise, ministers aren’t exactly raving over the secular themes hip-hop artists thrive upon.

That brings in Lecrae. An MC with nothing short of an impressive flow, rather than spit about his come-up in the secular sense, Lecrae always has ‘the man upstairs’ and a higher...
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Music Review: 'Nick & Knight' Is Better Than Expected

September 8th, 2014 6:30pm EDT
Nick & Knight
Had collaboration between boy bands/ members of boy bands occurred say 15 years ago, the buzz would’ve been ‘off the charts’ – nothing short of tremendous. Sure, there’s a following currently for Nick Carter and Jordan Knight as members of their respective boy bands, but it’s a bit more low-key. Even so, Nick & Knight actually deserves more notoriety than it’s receiving.

“One More Time” opens Nick & Knight with incredible energy. Bursting with enthusiasm, “One More Time” benefits from its sunny major key as well as a gargantuan chorus. The soulful rhythmic guitar plays a vital role i...
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Review: Jeezy Keeps It Real On 'Seen It All'

September 3rd, 2014 12:53pm EDT
Review: Jeezy Keeps It Real On 'Seen It All'
The best way to describe rapper Jeezy is blunt. Jeezy is a ‘no BS’ dude, who calls it like he sees it. This has occurred every album he’s dropped, but may be particularly true of latest effort, Seen It All: The Autobiography. Anytime ‘autobiography’ is involved, the expectation is for the artist to reach deeper than ever into their personal story. While Jeezy comes off overconfident at times, he’s brutally honest, true to his artistry.

“1/4 Block” opens the album in druggy fashion – it’s about hustling cocaine. Besides the “quarter block,” references to cocaine come by way of lyrics ...
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Maroon 5 'V' (Deluxe Edition) Review: Two Sides To One Successful Record

September 2nd, 2014 12:05pm EDT
V
As mentioned in our review of Maroon 5's Overexposed, this is a band that's constantly evolving. None of their records sounds quite like any of the others; whether or not that's a good thing depends on which incarnation you prefer. Fifth album V does its part to continue the group's transition into slickly produced pop-rock that began with Overexposed, yet what makes the record worth a listen are the few tracks where it breaks from effects and goes back to the band's true musicianship.

If you've heard the first three singles - "Maps," "It Was Always You" and "Animals" - you've got a good s...
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Review: Ariana Grande Shines Vocally on ‘My Everything’

August 27th, 2014 9:50am EDT
Ariana Grande
On Ariana Grande’s sophomore album My Everything, things feel different from her debut Yours Truly from 2013. The voice still soars commandingly – there’s no difference there – but My Everything has more of the feel of a big pop album. Sure Yours Truly had some exceptional records itself and blended pop and R&B sensibilities much like this album, but My Everything feels as if Grande has better established her niche and is flexing.

My Everything is a solid second effort from Grande, feeling like the right album for the right time. That said, the album itself, while good, is by no means...
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