Hemingway's Whiskey |
Having taken a rare summer off from the road, Kenny Chesney eases back into action on Hemingway's Whiskey. Fittingly, the album kicks off with "The Boys of Fall," the hit first single. With a title and tone nodding to Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer," it's a wistful ode to the country star's high school football days. Chesney remains in a nostalgic mood on another fine ballad, "Where I Grew Up." The reflective vibe and '70s-soft-rock textures of songs like these recall 2008's Lucky Old Sun. But the spirited "Live a Little" and "Small Y'all," an old-school duet with George Jones, demonstrate that Chesney is still capable of foot-stomping fun.
Selena Gomez & the Scene
A Year Without Rain |
Miley Cyrus may be trying to act all grown up and put Hannah Montana behind her on Can't Be Tamed, but Wizards of Waverly Place star Selena Gomez still happily plays to the Disney Channel crowd on her second album. Indeed, upbeat, up-tempo tracks like "Summer's Not Hot" will keep the kids bouncing well into fall. Elsewhere, the hip-thrusting "Spotlight" finds the 18-year-old Latina making like a junior Shakira. Best, though, is the electro-infused title tune, with its melancholy shades of Coldplay's "Clocks" revealing a crack in her sunny disposition.
Going Back |
Phil Collins has already found success mining '60s soul and pop gems: He hit No. 1 with remakes of "You Can't Hurry Love" and "A Groovy Kind of Love" in 1982 and 1988, respectively. Now he's back doing the oldies, invading classic Motown territory like "Jimmy Mack," "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" and "Love Is Here and Now You're Gone." But his vocal performances are oddly muted, as if he knows he can't beat the past.
JOHN LEGEND & the Roots
Wake Up! |
If there's one new album you shouldn't sleep on now, it's Wake Up! A stirring collaboration between R&B singer John Legend and hip-hop band the Roots, it brings right-on-time relevance to the socially conscious soul of the '60s and '70s. Rather than focusing on all-too-familiar faves-with a notable exception being Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' "Wake Up Everybody," an all-star anthem featuring Melanie Fiona and Common-they dig deeper into the catalogs of Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and Donny Hathaway. The Roots find the funkiest of grooves in songs like "Our Generation (The Hope of the World)," while an impassioned Legend makes a case for himself as the greatest male R&B vocalist of his generation.
Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time |
Carlos Santana has had his cameo-heavy formula down to a science since 1999's Grammy-slaying Supernatural. The guitar god is at it again here, with help from Chris Cornell, Scott Weiland, Chris Daughtry and "Smooth" collaborator Rob Thomas. The results are solid but unsurprising, with only a couple of really cool twists, including India. Arie and Yo-Yo Ma on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and Nas on "Back in Black." It may be time for a new schtick, Carlos.
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