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The Top New Recorded Releases 6-18-21 – 6-24-21 Reviewed

I’ve loved Gabrielle Wilson (aka H.E.R.) since catching her opening for Chris Brown in 2018 (here) where I wrote “…the revelation was transplanted West Coast, current Brooklyn’s finest, H.E.R. She woke up Monday morning and thought to herself, “I am playing Barclay Center tonight” and the 21 year old soul sister’s excitement was a thrill to behold. I’ve stayed clear of H.E.R. (an acronym for “Having Everything Revealed”), her sound was a little soft, a little too smooth, but I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention as Gabi (her real name) was so strong that the signing to RCA is no surprise. Last night her 45 minute set was consistently enthralling, with a DJ, drums, and a Pro Tool behind her, Gabi’s voice was a thing of beauty and power and she seemed completely comfortable on stage. At this stage of her career, just three years in (though she has worked the entertainment biz since she was a child!), everything is a highlight and was treated as such but especially when soulman Daniel Caesar joined her for the gorgeous soft stroke of “Best Part” (still Gabi’s biggest hit and a smash when they performed it together at the BET Awards), and the only one hit but it is killa…”

One year before the Chris Brown gig , I enjoyed Gabi’s eponymous compilation of five EPs while I considered it a little soft for my tastes, the live show changed my mind and for the following three years, but especially 2020, H.E.R. could no wrong. Last week she was another featured artist and I wondered if at this time and space she should just release her debut album, and today she did, her debut effort Back Of My Mind. Mostly produced by hip hop journeyman DJ Camper (the New jersey native Executive Produced Brandy’s return B7), the album is a long, sprawling, genre study of neo-R&B, and if the closer “Slide” remains the best track, the entire work is a beautifully sung, mood oriented sustained,  neo-R&B neo-classic (Grade: A-).

Over at singles, has it really been three years since the proto-feminist, cultural break through and royalty crowning Queen Of New York Blues Regina Bonelli’s “Don’t Put Your Hands On Me” from the album Love Letter (still on the blues charts by the way)? Her return to recording is represented by the sort of rock and blues you don’t hear much on “I Got To Go” , her singing is impeccable and the True Groove Allstars are leaning hard on the guitar (there is even a Muddy Waters style guitar solo) and Regina uses the song to discuss money and the hardship of making it in urban New York, the toughness of Regina’s vocals leaves little doubt that any movement is better than waiting (Grade: A). I already covered the worst song of the year, The Killers and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dustland” (here) (Grade: D), DaBaby continues widening his musical palette on “Ball If I Want To,” a great, skittish, wonderful voice on a “do what I say and I love you” sex track (Grade: B+), if Diana Ross is saying goodbye with “Thank You” she is doing so with a lovely 80s style disco (Grade: B+), Jennifer Hudson oversings her return (unless you consider her Christmas single with Ariana Grande last year), “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” with a Church Choir behind her for emphasis (Grade: C+), Dua Lipa’s first post-breakthrough single, “Can They Hear Us,”  is a slower paced, electronic, r&b snooze (Grade: C+).

Over at albums, the renaissance woman Angelique Kidjo sees everything, from Talking Heads to  Celia Cruz, as her terrain and, on Mother Nature she embraces afropop and afrobeats with a melodic brilliance and some of South Africa’s biggest stars (Hey, Mr. Eazi) (Grade: A-), Gucci Mane, the top Atlanta player, returns with his most serious attempt to remain at the top since 2017: Ice Daddy (with his son on the album cover)  is a featured packed (Pooh Shiesty AND Lil Uzi Vert), consistent set of trap beats, high hats, and rapping (Grade: B+). Finally, Tom Morello performs and The Catastrophists EP  is filled with of artcore, or art metal, the guitar playing is excellent and The Bloody Beetroots give Tom an electronic back to lean on, the Pussy Riot song still sounds winning (Grade: B)

Mother Nature – Angelique Kidjo – A-

Ball If I Want To – DaBaby – B+

Thank You – Diana Ross – B+

CAN THEY HEAR US (From ‘Gully’ with original Daniel Heath Score) – Dua Lipa – C+

Ice Baby – Gucci Mane – B+

Back Of My Mind – H.E.R. – A-

Here I Am (Singing My Way Home) – Jennifer Hudson – C+

Build It Better – Natalie Imbruglia

I Got To Go – Regina Bonelli – A

Dustland – The Killers And Bruce Springsteen – D

The Catastrophists EP – Tom Morello And The Bloody Beetroots – B


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