The Early Bird: Top New Releases 7-24-20 – 7-30-20 Reviewed

Written by | July 25, 2020 7:25 am | No Comments

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Yesterday, we woke up to Taylor Swift’s excellent folklore (here) (Grade: A )  and Power of the Trinity…a Slight Return by Tomás Doncker & The Global Soul Ensemble, tellingly POT, Ethiopian pop meets True Groove black rage unharnessed, is the third of the Haile Selassie trilogy. It is less an entrance to Doncker, go with The Mess We Made if that’s what you want, and more a musical simmer where black funk meets African beats and vocal deep dives, and as a  truly deep dive singer  Mahmoud Abbas joins Doncker at  Central Park’s Summerstage back in 2012 (my review here). on “Ere Mela Mala”. As an added plus, you can hear the late Lael Summer all over the album: the hope is Doncker releases a box set of all three versions and includes a live album culled from the remarkable 2012 concert (Grade: A).

Remaining with albums Pop Smoke’s much admired Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon is now available in a 34 song take, it remains very strong, especially worthy is the Jamie Foxx featured “She Lookin Nice” and while the seams are showing all the way through it remains an experience (Grade: A-). Lori Mckenna, the country Americana songwriter, works as a fine place counterpoint to Taylor’s folk Americana on The Balladeer, a quietly powerful collection of loves lost and found (Grade: B+).  I thought we were going to be getting PJ Harvey’s To Bring You My Love demos (and we got Rid Of Me demos decades ago),  still Dry is a great album, her first four albums remain untouchables, the Dry demos are as stripped bear as possible, “Sheela-Na-Gig” remains a slap in the face (Grade: A). I’ve been enjoying the Bruce Springsteen Live Compilation series of thematic releases but The Live Series: Stripped Down is even more drear than the name suggest (Grade: C)

Over at singles, J. Cole tries to get the bitter taste of “Snow On Da Bluff” out of his mouth, and thankfully the one overwhelming feeling here is he manages it, but only just. On “The Climb Back” he deals with the ups and downs of life (Grade: B) and on the brilliantly named “Lion King On Ice” Cole reviews the long struggle he took to become a star, ruined by an irritating hook (“got blood on my hands, I ain’t going to lie”) (Grade: C+). Maroon 5 return return with “Nobody’s Love” -a hit seeking missile ballad (Grade: B). The big selling point on the Rolling Stones latest drop from  the Goat’s Head Soup box set, is “Scarlett,” a demo featuring Jimmy Page and Keith trading licks on a riff glam shrug of a song: more than historical value, but how much more? (Grade: B-). Blake Shelton is joined by his wife Gwen Stefani on a sweet country pop  song “Happy Anywhere,” a surprisingly adept piece of commercial zoning laws (Grade: B+). Finally, SoCal pretenders Dawes are good for one song every three years, and the Jackson Browne-y, with a soaring middle and first rate coda of “Who Do You Think You’re Talking To” should set em up till 2023 (Grade: B+)

Happy Anywhere (feat. Gwen Stefani) – Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani – B+

The Live Series: Stripped Down – Bruce Springsteen – C

The Climb Back – J. Cole – B

Lion King On Ice – J. Cole – C+

Who Do You Think You’re Talking To? – Dawes- B+

The Balladeer – Lori McKenna – B+

Nobody’s Love – Maroon 5 – B

Dry Demos – PJ Harvey – A

Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon (Deluxe) – Pop Smoke – A-

folklore – Taylor Swift – A

Scarlett – The Rolling Stones – B-

Power of the Trinity…a Slight Return – Tomás Doncker & The Global Soul Ensemble – A

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