Arts & Life
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This article was published 24/10/2012 (2851 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Catch My Breath (RCA)
Ten years after being crowned the original American Idol, Kelly Clarkson is releasing a greatest-hits collection. The requisite new single is a breezy, celebratory number that leans ever so slightly into electro-pop territory and features some of the most soaring vocals of her career. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2
CALVIN HARRIS FEAT. FLORENCE WELCH
Sweet Nothing (Ultra)
The Florence and the Machine vocalist warbles away over top of stratospheric trance melodies that sound strikingly similar to several turn-of-the-millennium club tracks, including the Porn Kings' Sledger and The Shrink's Nervous Breakdown. Energetic, been-there-done-that type of business. 'Ö'Ö1/2
BRUNO MARSLocked Out of Heaven (Atlantic)
The first offering from his upcoming Unorthodox Jukebox album is far more upbeat than his usual whimpering balladry. The bouncy, rock-pop-reggae vibe recalls the Police, and the high-flying, sing-along chorus is a definite winner. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2
LENIt's My Neighbourhood (EMI)
Yes, that Len. As in, Steal My Sunshine Len. Their first release in nearly eight years is a pablum love letter to their hometown of Toronto, and it's about an ounce of sugar shy of being a rejected Sesame Street segment. Here's hoping Ontario Tourism spares us from using it in their commercials. 'Ö
-- reviewed by Steve Adams
Red (Big Machine Records)
TAYLOR Swift's Red, the Grammy winner's fourth album, sees the singer continuing to step away from her country roots to take on a more rock and pop sound. The album features songs that are big and stadium-ready (she has a U2-like moment on State of Grace) and others that are soft and slow.
But while Red contains its share of winners, many of the songs lack the colourfulness and vitality the album title suggests, leading to an overall letdown. Lyrically and sonically, the album lacks oomph and feeling.
Hooking up with some new -- and popular -- producers seemed like a good move for Swift. Unfortunately, stepping out of her comfort zone doesn't always work.
Max Martin and Shellback, who have helmed No. 1 smashes for Maroon 5, Pink, Kelly Clarkson and others, have given Swift her first No. 1 pop hit with the juvenile-sounding anthem We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, which echoes Avril Lavigne in her teen years. The producers fare better on I Knew You Were Trouble, where Swift takes the bull by the horns, sounding aggressive over an electrified and electronic beat.
The main issue with Red is that it sounds empty. There's nothing close to the country-soul ballads like the heart-wrenching You're Not Sorry and White Horse from Fearless, or even the emotion -- and magic -- of songs like Never Grow Up and Enchanted. She gets close to reaching those touching heights on the album's duets. English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran -- and Swift's falsetto -- shine on Everything Has Changed, and on The Last Time, Swift takes a back seat to Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, whose gravelly vocals ride beautifully over the haunting beat. Too bad there's not more where that came from. 'Ö'Ö'Ö out of five
DOWNLOAD THIS: The Last Time
-- By Mesfin Fekadu
British Lion (EMI)
Dyed-in-the-leather headbangers will know bassist Steve Harris as one of the founding members and main songwriters in long-serving New Wave of British Heavy Metal kingpins Iron Maiden. His first "solo" album is actually a band effort that Harris has lent his name to for obvious commercial reasons. Track for track, British Lion growls quite properly. Without going too far over-the-top sonically, the band (two guitars, bass, drums and vocals) roils quite meatily, creating a more progressive-metal sound space than Harris's other band. Absent the standard clichés, this lion roars. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö out of five
DOWNLOAD THIS: The Chosen Ones, Eyes of the Young
-- Jeff Monk
Rewind (Pinwheel Music)
TORONTO singer Elizabeth Shepherd recorded these 11 songs when she was pregnant in an effort to maintain her link to music as the rest of her life was changing.
She arranged well-worn tunes such as Love for Sale, Midnight Sun, Prelude to a Kiss and Buzzard Song to make them her own, with spare instrumentation -- mainly electric keyboards, bass and drums -- and her unmistakable vocals. (It may be the first time that tuned mixing bowls and muted pestle make it into recording credits.)
Shepherd's singing draws you in with her delicate, almost wistful delivery. She makes you pay attention, and rarely disappoints. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2 out of five
DOWNLOAD THIS: Sack of Woe, Prelude to a Kiss.
-- Chris SmithJAZZ
ELIZABETH SHEPHERD -- Rewind (Pinwheel Music)
Toronto singer Elizabeth Shepherd recorded these 11 songs when she was pregnant in an effort to maintain her link to music as the rest of her life was changing.
She arranged well-worn tunes such as Love For Sale, Midnight Sun, Prelude to a Kiss and Buzzard Song to make them her own, with spare instrumentation -- mainly electric keyboards, bass and drums -- and her unmistakable vocals. (It may be the first time that tuned mixing bowls and muted pestle make it into recording credits.)
Shepherd's singing draws you in with her delicate, almost wistful delivery. She makes you pay attention, and rarely disappoints. HHH 1/2
DOWNLOAD THIS: Sack of Woe, Prelude to a Kiss.
-- Chris Smith
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