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  • Bob Dylan
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Artist: Jamie Liddel
Artist: Multiply
Courtesy of: http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/2215

It?s extremely tempting to give Jamie Lidell a really wide berth. Covering the entire spectrum of what he accomplishes on Multiply, his first solo record in five years, would warrant comparisons as obscure as Memphis producer Willie Mitchell, to names as household as Prince, Beck, or (cough) Jamiroquai. Recommendations could range from Wire readers to Maxim voyeurs ? and it?d all apply. Multiply is that rare album that can be all things to all who care to listen. Lidell?s steez, as it was in Super_collider (his collab with Cristian Vogel, which bore two highly esteemed albums of its own), is to funk things up digitally. And both have been polishing the act for years since their split, to the point where both artists are at the tops of their collective games with new releases; Vogel (who we?ll talk about in a later review) pointing towards the future with new seamless sounds and directions, and Lidell with an unflappable reverence for the past. Both of these are good things, and in Lidell?s case, he identifies a mastery of form that few if any contemporary musicians have managed to tackle. Hometapers, even with the most sophisticated digital gear on the market, would likely break their glasses trying to duplicate what Lidell?s created here: a silky, bright, singing-in-the-shower masterstroke of joy and elation. There have been one-man bands before, to be sure, but even as a solo performer Lidell?s got a reason to smile, because he is so totally in control of the technology behind his game. He wears it on his sleeve that he and he alone can do this, as well he should. He makes all the gear transparent with his music. His confidence works to such a great advantage that it alone could sell the performance. The music?s laid its roots in funk and soul, a satellite from the P-Funk mothership sneakin? out the backdoor wearing Black Moses? sandals. The temptation would surely exist for Lidell to cannibalize the parts of music he liked and just copy and paste them out; he certainly has the skills to do so, and fuck history over in the process. Which is why it?s so surprising and exciting to hear the guy?s genuine streak beaming through the whole record. On the ballads, he brings to mind Al Green and Willie Mitchell?s classic ?Memphis Sound,? Isaac Hayes?s sterling arrangement and musical abilities of his ?60s tenure with Stax, the late Charles Stepney?s hit streak with Earth Wind and Fire, and the heart-rending blue flame that fueled Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett, and Percy Sledge alike. When he picks up the tempo, it?s all Prince, Stevie Wonder, George Clinton; elastic-framed world-beaters programmed for maximum action, excitingly arranged and with no presets in earshot. That he could so masterfully bounce between styles is cause enough for consideration as a major talent; that he can pull them all off with a dynamite three-octave voice that can alternately soar to the studio ceiling, screech like a slammed brake, and melt like ice cream in a hot car, is some sort of minor miracle. All of these things put together make Jamie Lidell a star. Superstar status will have to wait to see how he develops over the next few albums and wins over audiences with his live set. He doesn?t display any of the pain, sadness or dark corners that built up the underside of soul music?s nature with your Norman Whitfield, Carl Davis or Bill Withers, for one, and he also strikes out on one track, ?Newme,? with a breakneck tempo and kitchen sink arrangement that sounds more like a demo reel for all his toys than a bonafide album cut. All the same, it?s about as perfect an album 2005?s going to see, and one of the best offered up this year so far. Lidell?s love keeps lifting you higher.

Artist: Brendan Benson
Artist: The Alternative to Love
Courtesy of: http://search.insound.com/search/showrelease.jsp?p=INS25942

The Alternative to Love feels like the precisely calibrated offspring of its predecessors -- brighter than Lapalco (which was dubbed "an album of such radiant beauty and wrist-slashing introspection that is pulls all other pretenders to the Beatles/Beach Boys mantle firmly in their places"), not quite as big a sugar-rush as Mississippi. "It's a nice kind of blend of the two," Benson says. Despite his professed allergy to singer-songwriter syndrome, Benson has been doing more acoustic gigs the past few years, which played into the songwriting process. And while the songs are mostly about love, heartbreak, and connection, the context isn't always romance -- Benson also draws on harder life experience, like being abandoned by his father, and the death of his grandfather who raised him. "A lot of times it might sound like I'm singing about a girl, but it just might be about someone or something entirely different," he says.

Artist: Alanis Morissette
Artist: Jagged Little Pill
Courtesy of: http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/06/18/060442.php

I am not ashamed to say that "Jagged Little Pill" was one of my favorite albums of my teen years. It was that time when I was really starting to discover music. I listened to a lot of different music back then. My musical tastes had a broader scope at that time. But more then anything, I still love the music of those years of my life. This acoustic album is much better than what was planned - a re-mastering of the original 1995 "Jagged Little Pill." On first thought, this acoustic album seems like MTV Unplugged, rehashed. After listening through the entire album a couple times, this is much more then "Unplugged," and it is anything but rehashed. You sing along to every song on "Acoustic" and you do a double take. Did she change the lyrics? Are you serious? Morissette actually put effort into this album? Indeed she did. In a time when artists are becoming lax with their music - with "Best Of" albums that are merely re-mastered - Morissette delivers a new "Jagged Little Pill" that seems to have even more kinetic energy then the original some 10 years ago.

Artist: Tracy Chapman
Artist: Where You Live
Courtesy of: http://www.minor7th.com

I'm going to say what every artist hates hearing. I wish this disc was more like her first release -- fresh with sharp simple arrangements centered around her percussive acoustic guitar work. There's still great guitar here and that full low voice with the slight waver. This isn't a bad album but it's definitely more like her later releases where the big production sometimes overpowers the songs. Still, there are many gems, like the bitter "Never Yours." "I've been a lot of things / But never yours." "Don't Dwell" is a love song with a spooky arrangement of electric guitar -- perhaps a hollow body with a lot of reverb -- and drums that sound far away. There's an ache in lines like, "That old flame has cooled but I'm burning for you." "America" blazes like the old Tracy Chapman and is the highlight of this disc. This one doesn't sugar coat -- "The ghost of Columbus haunts this world 'cause you're still conquering America." The strong thwack of a snare and sinister electric guitar fuel this great tune. If you're going to buy this CD, get it for this song. Play it real loud. Maybe Washington will hear it.

Artist: James Blunt
Artist: Back to Bedlam
Courtesy of: http://www.albumvote.co.uk

For those ever in despair at the music industry and left feeling hollow by all that mass produced plastic crap that litter the airwaves then James Blunt and this album will always help reinvigorate you. Aside from the fact that the album is stunning from start to finish the man?s background harks back to a different age. For once we get a song writer with a truly exceptional past and a past which seems almost alien to many of us. Blunt is a former solider and his army career saw him stationed in Kosovo as part of NATO?s peacekeeping force and he uses his past and experience to create a brilliant album. The opening four tracks of this album could all be number one singles and if there is any justice in this world then at least half of them will. ?You?re Beautiful? and ?Goodbye My Lover? are exceptionally good tracks and it is on these opening few songs the album hangs it hat. There is enough in the opening half of this record for anybody to make a connection with. ?You?re Beautiful? is a tale of unattainable love whilst ?Goodbye My Lover? charts a failed and doomed relationship. Add into the mix that all these songs are incredibly catchy and you have my justification for my bold claims of a potential chart topper in any one of them. The second half of the album does not disappoint and whilst it is perhaps not as catchy as what has gone before it the tracks are no less special. - Uplifting and painful but never short on passion the album is a stunning debut and that should not be missed.

Artist: Compilation
Artist: Acoustic Vol.5
Courtesy of:

The fifth release in the highly successful Acoustic series manages to outshine the previous four albums with a stunning range of inspired acoustic numbers from diverse and unusual artists. Acoustic 05 includes tracks from the likes of Embrace, Oasis, The Zutons, Razorlight, Damien Rice, Athlete and Bloc Party. It's unmissable.