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The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 5-21-21 – 5-27-21 Reviewed


Despite a dreadful concert near the beginning of her “Lana” career, in 2012 (here), when I saw her again seven years  later I was much happier (here), writing “She is a Hitchcock blonde but not the ice queen Grace Kelly, the damaged Kim Novak…”. And I had remained a fan till the hugely tedious Chemtrails Over the Country Club left me cold. But that was months ago, and Lana is prepping an album for a July 4th release, and dropped three new songs to get us ready. All three are haunting, digital, wall of blue sounds for a summer day without any shade (well, except for shade of course). “Blue Banister” is Lana by her swimming pool, daydreaming about her ex who promised to paint her banister -a very quietly disturbed track  with a strummed beat on her guitar to keep time (Grade: B+),  “Text Book” is more lo fi Americana with an Electra complex (Grade: B+), and the third single, similar sound yet again, you have to admire a line as strong as “I’ll lay down like a bed of  wildflowers…” on “Wildflower Wildfire”  in Lana’s continuing search for better lovers  in the USA (Grade: B+).

Still on singles, I haven’t loved Miranda Lambert since that run of albums in the 00s, her latest is the Jack Ingram snooze earlier this year, and I vastly prefer her new single “They’ve Closed Down the Honky Tonks,” a delicate, country ballad (Grade: B), on “You’ll Survive,” funk and soul star Sam Huber from Finland makes art funk of the first order, strange and twisty danceable (Grade: A-), Duran Duran return with a synth whipping “Invisible” (Grade: B)

I reviewed Olivia Rodrigo’s very good debut album Sour earlier today (here) (Grade: B+) but I’m more excited to hear Young M.A., well on her way to being my favorite rapper in 2021, the first listen to the post-breakthroughalbum, Off The Yak, finds her at the top of US drill now we don’t have Pop Smoke anymore, this is in the running for album of the year but it needs to be listened to more (Grade: A-). What made Milwaukee finds The Lumineers dropping an EP of songs from the last night of their tour on Live from The Last Night of Tour (Grade:B). My favorite John Hiatt album is All Of A Sudden, which finally arrived on streaming service, not that I was aware  till I reviewed his excellent rockabilly cum Americana Leftover Feelings, a superb album of all original compositions, forty years after a masterpiece he has never been less than a great songwriter and skilled roots purveyor with an ear for a tune and a hook, a terrific effort (Grade: B+), though not as great as Micky’s masterpiece, Remember, from 2012, with one of the best covers of Lennon, “Good Morning Good Morning,” I’ve ever heard, but there is also a great “Tapioca Tundra” here, and “Different Drum,” and Micky pays his bandmate all respect (Grade: B), this has been a good year for country (Eric Church has been on fire for one) and Blake Shelton is not great on Body Language, but his earnest country pop  at least knows what it wants… a hit (Grade: C+). Finally, it has been six years since Twenty-One Pilot were great on their breakthrough, and while Scaled And Icy isn’t  isn’t Blurryface but it isn’t Trench either, rather it is somewhat a grown up soul pop album by the duo who have just hit their thirties and it shows, in a really good way, start with the excellent opening track “Good Day”  (Grade: B-)


Body Language – Blake Shelton – C+

Invisible – Duran Duran – B

Leftover Feelings – John Hiatt with the Jerry Douglas Band – B+

Blue Banister – Lana Del Rey – B+

Text Book – Lana Del Rey – B+

Wildflower Wildfire – Lana Del Rey – B+

Dolenz Sings Nesmith – Micky Dolenz – B

They’ve Closed Down the Honky Tonks – Miranda Lambert – B

You’ll Survive – Sam Huber – A-

Live from The Last Night of Tour – The Lumineers – B+

Sacled And Icy – Twenty-One Pilots – B-

Off The Yak – Young M.A. – A-

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