By Tim Parks
Cyndi Lauper Memphis Blues
Cyndi Lauper has got the blues, and she’s got them so bad, that it’s good for music lovers. The ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ singer has taken on a more somber tone with her latest project, Memphis Blues, which is her take on Blues-oriented material coming from the wellspring of yesteryear.
The album, which was recorded in Tennessee, features appearances by industry legends, such as B.B. King, Allen Toussaint, Charles Musselwhite and Johnny Lang.
The latter makes a vocal appearance on ‘Crossroads,’ and Lauper matches Lang lyric-by-lyric with just as much soul and conviction on the track, which drips with a guitar laden melancholy that is saturated with rhythm. ‘Just Your Fool’ has a “Roseanne” theme song-esque harmonica intro, while Lauper’s brand of spunkiness serves the track very well.
It should be of no surprise to fans of this talented lady that she wanted to shake things up for her new CD, as she delved into standards and practices with At Last in 2003, stripped down territory for The Body Acoustic in 2004, and the nature of nightlife with 2008’s dance-floor extravaganza Bring Ya To The Brink. Memphis Blues will definitely resonate with her fan base, and anyone born to sing the Blues, for that matter. Available June 22.
Mistress of Illusion
Sarah McLachlan Laws of Illusion
Lillith Fair 2010 headliner Sarah McLachlan is releasing her first album of new material, which has been seven years in the making. Laws of Illusion features the Grammy Award-winning songstresses in great shape, after her respite from the music industry for nearly a decade, save for her 2007 happy holidays-themed album Wintersong.
The lead single, ‘Loving You Is Easy,’ has a Carly Simon quality to it, although there is no mistaking McLachlan’s own distinctive vocal prowess. She lyrically proclaims that ‘I’m alive and I’m on fire,’ all set to a lone piano, and then the accompanying beat of a drum follows suit, as an example of a perfect union between harmonies and melodies.
‘U Want Me 2’ is vintage McLachlan, which translates to being a lushly orchestrated and hauntingly crafted tale of love gone south, and was included on her 2008 greatest hits LP, Closer. Available June 15.
Gray skies are gonna clear up
Macy Gray The Sellout
Macy Gray’s career has seen its fair share of highs with the huge success of her first single ‘I Try’ – for which she won a Grammy – to its lows, like being the second celebrity voted off “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009.
Her fifth studio album, The Sellout, is being described as a nod to her quest to find her musical niche by embracing all of her previous attempts and combining them on one project.
The lead single, “Beauty In The World,” finds the raspy voiced singer in good form with the sing-song verses, hand claps and acoustic nature of the soulful tune. The rest of the disc encompasses varying genres with the rock flavored ‘Kiss It,’ a blending of funk and pop on ‘Lately,’ and the synthesized pop sound of ‘On and On.’ Available 6/22/10.
Mixing It Up
U.S. DJ/record producer Ryan Raddon is widely recognized by his two turntables and a microphone pseudonym of Kaskade. He is back to set your toes to tappin’ and get you into the groove with his sixth musical effort, Dynasty, and has enlisted the services of a few featured artists to help him in this endeavor.
And, the Billboard dance chart king finds himself in good company with Haley (who sounds similar to Janet Jackson) on ‘Don’t Stop Dancing,’ which you’d be pretty hard-pressed not to do, once he starts throwing the beats down, starting out as pulsating rhythms, which ramps up to an electronic crescendo at points, yet, maintains a steady throb throughout.
The CD also includes vocals by Becky Jean Williams, Mindy Gledhill, Polina and Dragonette. The latter is featured on the guitar driven ‘Fire In Your New Shoes,’ which seems to pay vocal homage to Missing Persons and New Order sound-wise. Available now.
Mame: Original Broadway Cast Recording
“Murder She Wrote” actress Angela Lansbury headlined the 1966 Broadway adaptation of Patrick Dennis’ novel Auntie Mame, as Mame, the flamboyant persona who is left to care for her young nephew. However, she doesn’t have a care in the world, and wants her young ward to see that “life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!”
This original cast recording features Lansbury in her Tony Award-winning role and the late Bea Arthur as Vera Charles belting out ‘Bosom Buddies’ and the Holiday favorite ‘We Need A Little Christmas,’ among other tunes. Available now.
City of Angels: Original Broadway Cast Recording
1989’s City of Angels wove together two simultaneous stories, in its retelling of a writer trying to adapt his novel into a screenplay, and the script itself acting as the secondary story in this musical tapestry, which blended comedy along with a detective drama. The CD of the six-time Tinsel Town-based Tony Award-winner (including a trophy for Best Musical), features the songs “I’m Nothing Without You” and “You Can Always Count On Me.” Available Now.
Stop, Look and Listen!
Phil Putnam Second Thoughts
For his eighth studio LP, soulful piano man Phil Putnam is taking a different point-of-view and training his bespeckled eyes back onto some of his signature songs, with the release of Second Thoughts. The five-song acoustic CD is culled from his 2008 effort Casualties, from which two songs ‘I’m No Prize’ and ‘More Than This’ placed onto LOGO’s “The Click List.”
‘More’ spent a staggering 19 weeks (a record for the network) on its video charts. ‘Severity,’ the lead track off the stripped down regrouping, has the openly gay musician warning that “his edges are sharp,” but it’s his tickling of the ivories and honest lyricism that cut deep into the listener’s soul. Putnam is releasing Inside the Album & Inside the Song in tandem with Second Thoughts, both of which are featured exclusively at http://www.philputnam.com . Available Now.
The article was originally published in June 2010.