Keep On Loving You | [
Let Taylor Swift play to the teenyboppers; Reba McEntire, embracing all of her 54 years, is clearly comfortable with her place as an elder stateswoman in country music. On her new album, that is never more obvious than on the bittersweet standout "She's Turning 50 Today," the only song the singer had a hand in writing. McEntire brings a middle-aged perspective as the birthday girl, after her husband leaves her "for a woman that was half her age," sets out to start a new life. She also deals with mature issues on "Eight Crazy Hours (In the Story of Love)," a ballad about a mother who wonders, "Should I be more sexy?" But, as demonstrated by tracks like the sassy single "Strange," McEntire is not too old to have fun.
Turn Me Loose | [3½]
REVIEWED BY IVORY JEFF CLINTON
On the follow-up to Ledisi's 2007 breakthrough, Lost and Found, this soul diva leaves no doubt as to why she earned a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. The New Orleans native, who cowrote 13 of the album's 14 tracks, belts with rousing abandon on the funky opener "Runnin'," while serving up some lyrical sauce on the Caribbean-flavored kiss-off "Trippin'": "Mama told me watch out for bad boys, but I didn't listen/ Giving all my stuff away for some hugs and kissin'." And when this lady sings the blues on the Al Greenish "Love Never Changes" and the fiery title track, turning her loose is the last thing that you'll want to do.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Knockin'," a Tina Turneresque funk-rocker
I'm About to Come Alive |
"Don't give up on me/ I'm about to come alive," sings David Nail on the title-track highlight of his country debut. And the singer makes good on that promise with a rewarding set that showcases his soulful, nuanced vocals. The CD kicks off with "Mississippi," a wistful, bluesy ballad, and ends with "Missouri," on which Nail, reflecting on the pain he's caused a lover, pronounces his home state like "misery." Meanwhile, on the aching single "Red Light," a relationship comes to an abrupt stop.
For more information on where to find our Download This picks, go to people.com/downloadthis
>Two expansive new box sets—The Woodstock Experience and Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm—commemorate the 40th anniversary of the legendary festival, which began on Aug. 15, 1969 with a lineup including Janis Joplin, Sly & the Family Stone and Jimi Hendrix (right).
>GEORGE STRAIT Twang Like a well-worn pair of cowboy boots, the country veteran brings a warm, comforting familiarity to his latest effort. He touches the nostalgic heart on the lilting highlight "Where Have I Been All My Life."
BAND OF SKULLS Baby Darling Doll Face Honey Meet the best new British rock band since Arctic Monkeys. On their awesome debut, they evoke the Monkeys, Kings of Leon and, in some moodier moments, Radiohead.
GLORIANA Gloriana This new coed country quartet appears destined for glory. With matchbox twenty producer Matt Serletic at the helm, there's a rock edge to some cuts, while others bring to mind a twangier version of Fleetwood Mac.
THE DEAD WEATHER Horehound As if it weren't enough with the White Stripes and the Raconteurs, Jack White (on drums and vocals) continues to amaze with his third band. Raw, psychedelic grooves and loaded lyrics make this a crafty classic.
>Fresh off her new CD Battlefield, the singer, 19, looks back on the discs that inspired her, from Michael to Mariah.
Nat King Cole, The Very Best of Nat King Cole My nana introduced me to him. I listen to this to chill. His voice is so soothing. I sang with Natalie Cole once. Amazing.
Michael Jackson, Number Ones I bought this in junior high. I dissected his music and realized what kind of genius he was. He provided great music for great times.
, Christina Aguilera
I wanted to be her. I was so mad I wasn't blonde! She has a big voice and she influenced me in the way I use my voice now.
John Mayer, Continuum This inspired me to write anything that comes to my head, to write personal things. On my new record I cowrote a song, "Faith," that's kind of like "Waiting on the World to Change."
, Mariah Carey
This is the music I wanted to make. I try to sing the exact same way.
>JACK WHITE, on yet another side project, wields a mean ax on "Fly Farm Blues" from the new guitar-themed documentary film It Might Get Loud. $0.99 at iTunes.com.
ESMEE DENTERS, the Dutch YouTube sensation now signed to Justin Timberlake
's label, rocks the defiant dance-pop of "Outta Here," the title song from her debut disc, due this fall. $0.99 at rhapsody.com.
rejoices in the "dance of life" on "Celebration," a sort of sequel to her '83 club classic "Holiday." It's the title track from her upcoming greatest-hits set, due Sept. 29. $1.29 at amazon.com.