Album Reviews
by Tom Beninate
Artist: Tim McGraw
Album:
Two Lanes Of Freedom
Year Released: 2013
Rating:

If you like listening to average songs from the 1970s, then this record is for you. McGraw seems a bit off his game as these tunes do not stand up to his really good stuff. You can always tell when an artist doesn't have their heart in on the record. The production is good but the final product is mediocre.
Key Songs: "Two Lanes Of Freedom", "Highway Don't Care".
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Artist: Ariana Grande
Album:
Yours Truly
Year Released: 2013
Rating:

Ariana Grande is one of those few pop vocalists who can be compared to Mariah Carey. Grande's airy voice could use a bit more character, but her range and precision is impressive. A lot of people co-wrote (with Grande) the tunes on this CD, so there is a minimum spec here. The arrangements are very good except for the abrupt endings.
Key Songs: "Almost Is Never Enough".
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Artist: Neil Young
Album:
A Letter Home
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

Neil Young released these cover songs which were recorded in an old recording booth by Jack White. Young says he wanted to do something personal. Fine. But that is no excuse for a lazy recording where he sings horribly. White claims he wanted to preserve this 1940s technology. Baloney. Recordings from the 1940s sound much better.
Key Songs:
Artist: The New Pornographers
Album:
Bill Bruisers
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

This band's signature is an up-tempo tune supported by electric guitar and bass playing eight notes (at the root position) and a complimentary arpeggiator synthe. There is nothing wrong with that except this approach is used on almost every song. The arrangements are full but the choruses are repetitive and too similar.
Key Songs: "Bill Bruisers", "War On The East Coast".
Artist: Wiz Khalifa
Album:
Blacc Hollywood
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

Get ready for a lot of fresh hooks on this album. You also get some good choruses with fine harmonies. Wiz's inspirations permeate the record. You would really have something to talk about if there were a few number one tracks on Blacc Hollywood.
Key Songs: "Promises", "Stayin Out All Night", "So High".
Artist: Santana
Album:
Corazon
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

Here we have a nice collection of latin tracks featuring a number of fine guest artists. Of course, Santana interweaves (and sometimes overlaps) his trademark leads with the featured vocalist. This is very familiar Santana music and a delightful album to listen to in its entirety.
Key Songs: "La Flaca".
Artist: Marsha Ambrosius
Album:
Friends & Lovers
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

Friends and lovers summaries the theme of this album perfectly. Ambrosius' vocals sit just right on top of these smooth rhythm and blues tunes. while a nicely integrated active bass support the bottom end. Essentially, this is classic R&B melded with updated processing and effects with a freshness of today's music.
Key Songs: "Shoes".
Artist: Coldplay
Album:
Ghost stories
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

This is a perfect example of why CD sales continue to plummet. The Coldpaly camp released different variations of the material from previous records. Not only is there nothing new here, but there is no progression of anything. This is not a bad album, but it seems geared more to extreme Coldplay fans.
Key Songs: "True Love", "Oceans", "A Sky Full Of Stars".
Artist: Pharrell Williams
Album:
Girl
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

Pharrell and friends created a funky-fun record that's easy to listen to. This mainly upbeat album is refreshing as compared to some of that current in-your-face kind of stuff. Williams spreads his talent around in songwriting, performing, and producing. This is why this artist is in demand for other people's work.
Key Songs: "Happy", "Gust Of Wind", "Know Who You Are".
Artist: Christina Perri
Album:
Head Or Heart
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

Perri's vocals and harmonies are pristine. The songs are good, not forced, and incorporate a fair amount of artistry. A really good arranger could have brought some of these tracks up a notch.
Key Songs: "Human", "Run".
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