Trying To Love A Lover

ALBUM                  :         LOVER

ARTIST                  :         TAYLOR SWIFT

GENRE                  :         COUNTRY / POP

YEAR RELEASED   :         2019

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In this album, Taylor Swift continues her adventure with Pop genre.  Though there is a hint that in time she will go back to her country roots as implied in her collaboration with The Dixie Chicks in the song “Soon You’ll Get Better.”  However, if this is an indication of higher level country music from Miss Swift, I believe  that she should continue with POP rendezvous as this album just continues where she took of from her two previous pop album.

However, there is much more to be desired in this record. The previous two albums were indeed musically excellent and in this record, I felt that she is bored with the pop genre.  Perhaps, she does not know what directions to take. Thus, this record is really similar to what other pop girls had offered previously.  For example, “You’ll Need to Calm Down” is like she trying to merge the musical style of Rihanna and Sia.  Thus, the song wasn’t able to topple “Old Town Road.” Indeed, you can say that if you are really musically knowledgeable you can tell that some songs are inspired if not borrowed from other songs such as “Paper Rings” sounding like Olivia Newton John and John Travolta’s “You’re The Want That I Want.”

This album lacks punches the way she punched us with good hooks and melodies like “Love Story.” Or lacks the deep passion of “Teardrops On My Guitar.”  The good thing about this record is that her uninspired performance is offsetted by good musical production values. The songs are so polished that again I reiterate that some songs sounds like a Rita Ora song, a Rihanna ballad cum dancehall music, a Sia composed for her song.

I think she must take a long break and make a record that will exploit her Dylan like songwriting ability. No doubt about it that she can write good songs but her tendency to favor commercial hits buries her songwriting ability. I rate this record 3 stars.

 

STILL LOVING THE BELOVED

Album Title                :           HAPPINESS

Artist                           :           The Beloved

Genre                         :           Pop / Synth Pop / Electronica

Year Released         :           1990

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The Beloved is a like child of Pet Shop Boys, New Order, and Depeche Mode in terms of musical style and sound. You can hear the imprint of these groups in the whole album.  In fact you might mistook some of the songs as one of their songs.  For example, “Hello” is like Pet Shop Boys during the nineties. “Don’t You Worry” is like a New Order song when they produce the “Republic.” And Depeche Mode DNA can be found in the song “Found.”

What does these things tell you? As fans of the abovementioned groups, it suggests that you should try to discover The Beloved if you haven’t done it yet.  Start with this album and you find yourself looking for their other albums as well and pay it a listening hour.  This album is one of the best purchases I had during my splurge moments way back in the nineties.  I was not expecting a delightful album from them.

Since I have so much biased with upbeat songs, I find the first song ‘Hello” not to my liking and have “Your Love Takes Me Higher” on repeat mode.  However, over time and period,  I found myself taking pleasure listening to “Scarlet Beautiful,” being awed with the ambient mood of “The Sun Rising,” and enjoying guiltily and pretend that “Wake Up Soon” as a U2 song.

It is in “I Love You More” that I found myself really liking this album. The song is so smooth, sexy, and slick even though that the lyrics are simple and the melody is monotonous. It is the way the is arranged musically and the synth instruments that made the song infections to listen personally.

With this revisiting of the nearly twenty-year old record, I believe that this album deserves a 4 star rating.

Rating Guide

1 star = ignore it

2 star = take a chance

3 star = buy it and listen

4 star = buy it and keep it

5 star = classic

SHE IS RISING MUSICALLY

Album Title                :           PHOENIX

Artist                           :           Rita Ora

Genre                         :           Pop

Year Released         :           2018

In this album, Miss Ora just cemented what I thought about her as a musical artist.  She is one of those who are clothed from Madonna.  In other words, she is indeed treading the path where Madonna lead the way for other pop girls.  The mere fact that she named the album “Phoenix,” it simply means that she is trying to rise from anonymity unto fame.  Thus, in this record, she presented to us not that she has a great voice; she also has better pop sensibilities.

The whole album is just loaded with pop songs that fans will really adore.  It is the kind of record where you can play the whole album without realizing that you have indeed finish the record and you play it on repeat mode as you just can have enough of it.  While there are no great or future classic songs that you will find in here, you can say that if you want pure pop bliss and just enjoy listening and while the time away, this is the record that you should own.

Even pop fillers like “Soul Survivor” sounded like a spectacle in this record.  Songs like “Anywhere, Anywhere” has that melody that will stay in your brain for a long time.  The duet with Liam Payne makes you want to crave more for more song from her.  She is even good in “Summer Love’” she combined ambient and powerful ballad into one memorable song in this record.

I rate this record with 3.5 stars for being a great pop record for Miss Rita Ora.  And hoping that she will produced a record that will top this one.

Rating Guide

1 star = ignore it

2 star = take a chance

3 star = buy it and listen

4 star = buy it and keep it

5 star = classic

A Very Grand Album With The Language of Love

Album Title                :           BABY GRAND

Artist                           :           THE LOVE LANGUAGE

Genre                         :           Rock

Year Released         :           2018

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If you want an adventure when it comes to music or sounds, this is one album that you should listen first. As an independent band, The Love Language is indeed adept at creating music that will be welcome by mainstream pop listeners provided of course if the songs in this record were recorded by mainstream artist.  There are many good reasons why you need to discover this album and listen to it seriously.

First, the ambience of the record is devoid of typical characteristics of indie bands; monotonous music.  You will find yourself swaying to “New Amsterdam”.  You will find head spinning experience with “Frames.” From these two songs alone, you will find extremities in terms of musical direction.  At one end, the band tried to be pop and at the extreme end, it tried to be ambient and too indie.

Second, the band can fuse different musical genre and create a jointed music such as “Juicebox.” The song created an ambience of the old times at the same time infuse a vibrant sweet rock music that one can sway even when alone.

Third, this album just proved the versatility of the band.  The Love Language can do folksy and artsy song at the same time; listen to “Glassy.”  It will remind you of the days where Peter Paul and Mary lorded the airplay. In “Castle In The Sky,” the band perform a more or less hard rock song without deviating the musical direction and still make the album a cohesive one in terms of musicality.

I say that Love Language is not a guilty pleasure but rather a discovery that waits to be discovered and to be cherished later.  Thus, I rate this record 4.5 stars.

 

Rating Guide

1 star = ignore it

2 star = take a chance

3 star = buy it and listen

4 star = buy it and keep it

5 star = classic

Charlie Puts Good Songs In This Album

voice notes target

Image from Target

Album Title                :           VOICENOTES

Artist                           :           Charlie Puth

Genre                         :           Pop / R and B

Year Released         :           2018

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You will find the first song of this record “The Way I Am” an apt description of Charlie Puth in terms of persona and talent.  If you are expecting for him to veer away from creating a pop personality in tradition of Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, and Ed Sheeran, perhaps you are looking in the wrong direction.  His sophomore album is a case of how to escape the jinx of second album.  And fortunately, Charlie did not succumb to that jinx and produced one of the best pop albums of 2018.

His loyal fans will not be disappointed with the songs of this record.  However, there are certain things that makes needs to be discussed in this review.  First, he has really that knack for creating good hooks and melodies and rope them together in one song to create memorable pop songs like the first song, then “Attention,” “LA Girls,” “Somebody Told Me,” and “Empty Cups.”  Second, he is only mildly successful in terms of collaboration in this record.  There is a mixed feeling of boredom for me when listening to his collaboration with Boyz II Men.  He is mildly successful singing song about life with “James Taylor.” But, he is very likeable and delightful with his interpolation with “I Can’t Go For That” of Hall and Oates.

 

Probably, you can describe his showcase of songs in this record as treading  the footsteps of Kenny Loggins.  Most of the songs in this record are arranged musically like a film soundtrack.  This is what makes this album a pleasure to listen at as it is so middle of the road.  It feels like Charlie doesn’t want to create mistake.  With that, I rate this record 4 stars because it urges you to listen one more time.

 

Rating Guide

1 star = ignore it

2 star = take a chance

3 star = buy it and listen

4 star = buy it and keep it

5 star = classic

Revisiting Nick Kamen Sophomore Album

Album Title                :           US             

Artist                           :           Nick Kamen

Genre                         :           Pop

Year Released         :           1988

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My interest with Nick Kamen started with “Each Time You Break My Heart.” It was a nice bouncy tune which happens to credit Madonna as one of the songwriters.  She even sang back up in this song.  The song is one of my all-time favorites thus, when I saw this record at my favorite record shop I immediately grab a copy in cassette form.  I was expecting more songs in this album along the likes of that Madonna composed songs.

True to it, I was not disappointed as I find the whole album very good musically not vocally.  This album was released when Rick Astley lorded over the airwaves thus, it was not unavoidable to compare Nick with Rick.  Yes, he cannot hold a candle singing beside Rick but Nick can deliver the same good stuff.  Unfortunately, it seemed at that time that music fans choose to ignore Nick probably because of the boyish appeal of Rick.

Thirty years after and it is time to revisit this record.  Well, I did revisit it from time to time as there are four songs that keep on humming inside my mind.  “Steal Love” is for me one of the greatest ballads of all time.  The song was constructed in a similar fashion most 80’s ballads were created.  The drum music is one of the best for me as it evokes an excitement in terms of emotion.

“Count On Me” is one song which I find the beat very danceable.  There is a certain sexiness each time Nick says “oohh “ in this song.  My most favorite song in this album is “Tell Me” perhaps it is due to my fascination with Madonna that I treasure each song that she is credited as background vocals as you do not hear very often she sings back – up. There is a certain similarity in terms of intro between “Holiday” and “Is This Really Love.” In fact, musically both songs can be mashed up and listeners will know that both songs have the same musical structure.

It would have been a great record if “Guilty” and “I Can’t Live Without Your Love” did not sound so dated.  With that I will rate this revisited record with 3.5 stars,

Rating Guide

1 star = ignore it

2 star = take a chance

3 star = buy it and listen

4 star = buy it and keep it

5 star = classic

Rick Still Sing Songs About Life Beautifully

Album Title                         :               Beautiful Life

Artist                                     :               Rick Astley

Genre                                   :               POP

Year Released                    :               2018

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In his previous album studio album, he went gospel and surely fans will look forward to another reinvention of his.  They will be in for a disappoint with regard to a new sound as Rick Astley somehow opted to go back to his roots or probably venture into territory where Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck left off.  However, the deviation to back to basics is not a bad thing.  It is probably doing something where he is good at.  He is indeed good in this album that you will not find the whole album very boring.

 

Perhaps, it challenged him to top “50.” Top it he did and suddenly he became a pop star again and no longer in the league with 80’s touring artist and keep on touring to remind people of their legacy.  In this album, he delivers positive message despite shivering in “Shivers.”  He was in the mood reliving the past and sang instead of reciting the cassette and DVDs in the “The Gold Old Days.” It would have been probably awful if he did it the Madonna way like in “Vogue.” He was bouncy in “Beautiful Life.” And even in songs about longing in “She Makes Me,” he made it sound like a good thing instead of being sad.

 

His voice is fuller and in low register prompting me to say that he reminds me of the good old days of Tom and Engelbert.  Fortunately, the songs are too pop instead of standard fare. I say that this is a good album worth keeping and listening over and over again.  Thus, I rate this record 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Rating Guide

1 star = ignore it

2 star = take a chance

3 star = buy it and listen

4 star = buy it and keep it

5 star = classic

Shawn Has Shown His Maturity

Album Title                         :               Shawn Mendes

Artist                                     :               Shawn Mendes

Genre                                   :               Pop

Year Released                   :               2018

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Shawn has shown his maturity.  You can say that there is a little bit of reinvention in this record.  It is either you look at it as regression or an improvement.  But for me, I say that it is an improvement.  In fact, this could be a shoo-in for one of the best albums of the year so far.  The album has simple narrative.  You can actually tell that the whole concept of this album centered on one-night stand and the reflections behind it. You can simply imagine how it happened, what happened, and the consequences.  This is a reflective album as he sung about fighting demons after meeting somebody.

Musically, you can say that he is finally singing songs befitting his age.  Thus, you have songs that boy bands like One Direction would want to sing such as “In My Blood” and “Fallin’ All In You.”  Especial mention for the song “Why” as it sounds like Harry Style’s “Sign of The Times. “ The song “Nervous” is quite a bouncy tune about being nervous meeting somebody.  He was not lost in terms of musicality in “Lost In Japan.”  I am glad that I found this song in this record as it reminds me of songs that were performed by Al Jarreau and George Benson.  In some parts, it is like listening to a Bruno Mars song. The same can be said with “Where Were You This Morning?”

You will really like “I Like To Be You.”  It is like a serenade that is asking for empathy.  A very emotional theme but the duet worked so well.  There is no arguing that this is one of the strongest points in this record.  The R and B ridden “Particular Taste” does not blend well in the company of good songs however, it shows that Shawn Mendes can tackle not only pop songs but songs with other genres as well.”

The maturity aspect of this album lies in the fact that Shawn did not create songs that is so bubblegum pop.  He made songs on one night stand that do not dwell on the mesmerizing aspect or the leave it there moment.  Instead, he sang about his reflections on it.  I say that this record will stand the test of time and will become one of classic albums in the future. I rate this record 5 stars.

 

Rating Guide

1 star = ignore it

2 star = take a chance

3 star = buy it and listen

4 star = buy it and keep it

5 star = classic

Listen To It Till Midnight If You Want

Album Title                         :               Midnight Drive

Artist                                     :               FR David

Genre                                   :               Pop

Year Released                   :               2014

FR David was an 80’s sensation because of the song “Sahara Nights.”  With a catchy single like that people will definitely buy his album.  More than two decades after, it seems that those who bought his record REFLECTIONS forgot about him and probably that he went into hiatus after that record.  This is the beauty of writing album reviews you got curious and my curiosity led me to his discography which I found on Wikipedia.  I found out that he recorded a new album in 2014 and I downloaded and listen to it.  Here are my thoughts.

The voice is there; soothing and not irritating.  It is like listening to Michael Franks and Mike Francis combined. He sung in this album like he is never mindful if the songs are current or dated.  What is important is that he still deliver the kind of song that his loyal fans expected from him.  The music may sound dated and will never attract new listeners but this is the charm of this record.  It does not force people to listen.  After listening to the whole record, there is a feeling of satisfaction from avid fans and probably some appreciation from new listeners.

This record dwells on the simplicity of music.  It doesn’t have high pitched songs that would make FR David to scream his hearts out.  Instead, he just performed the song like he used to.  No pretention to make an album that tackles social issues but rather songs that dwells on simple thoughts; no deep thinking here.

With that I rate this record 3.0 stars out of five stars. As he sung in “So Good,” baby everything so good and baby everything so fine, feels so good, feels so fine.” But the whole album will not make you lose your mind.

Rating Guide

1 star = ignore it

2 star = take a chance

3 star = buy it and listen

4 star = buy it and keep it

5 star = classic

Speaking Your Mind Simply

Album Title                         :               Speak Your Mind

Artist                                     :               Anne Marie

Genre                                   :               Pop

Year Released                   :               2018

From time to time we got to listen to records which might not destine to be a classic album but rather became a personal favorite.  Anne Marie’s 2018 opus titled Speak Your Mind is one of those records. It is not difficult to appreciate the album if you are talking on pure sound trip alone.  While the whole record is a hodgepodge of different genre, the whole record is set to catch your attention just like the debut album of Madonna did three decades ago.

If the producer of this album did not put her image on the album cover, one would definitely conclude that the singer is black as most of the songs have elements of R and B and Soul.  It is like listening to Beyonce while she was with Destiny Childs.  It is the combination of funk, and B, and cute voice makes the whole record endearing that after listening to the whole album you would play it again.  Most of the songs has catchy hooks and refrain.  Some songs have catchy titles like Bad Girlfriend, Trigger, and Rockabye.  It helps that it is loaded with one-word song titles as it will be easy for listeners their favorite songs on this record.

The themes of the song are not so personal but not too preachy either.  Anne Marie is just singing songs that current fans would love to hear and have a good time with it.  With that, I rate this record 3.5 stars. Best songs to listen are HEAVY, CAN I GET YOUR NUMBER, ROCKABYE, FRIENDS, TRIGGER, and BREATHING FIRE. That’s lot songs to enjoy in one record.

 

Rating Guide

1 star = ignore it

2 star = take a chance

3 star = buy it and listen

4 star = buy it and keep it

5 star = classic