3 DOORS DOWN — Where My Christmas Lives: BUY THIS ALBUM! Enough said. I love these guys. They have always delivered for me, and this is no exception. Great mix of acoustic work on this release. Beautiful. And if you have a moment, check out the single “The Champion in Me,” as well. You won’t be disappointed. Bias admitted.
FLOORTJE: Fearless — iTunes hooked me up with this artist — she has a duet on this album with Ronan Keating, one of my favorite new discoveries. While this release can feel a little canned or simplified — a result of her vocal quality being fairly pure, without a lot of color or depth — it works for her. She has moments that really reflect where she can go emotionally, and that’s what I enjoy most.
TRAIN: Save Me, San Francisco — I was not disappointed, but not wowed by this release, either. It feels a little less sophisticated than some of their other work, but is definitely entertaining. For some reason the lead vocals feel more forced and strident than on earlier releases. In addition, “Hey, Soul Sister” has been getting played to within an inch of its life, so that always puts a nail in the coffin of any song I like. However, if you haven’t checked out one of their singles on iTunes, “The Finish Line,” you should. Really nice.
3rd FORCE: Collective Force — My morning Starbucks run resulted in my first listen to this group, 3rd Force. This album is one of three of similar title, “Driving Force” and “Gentle Force.” Chris would call this the death of him…. “smooth jazz” or “light jazz,” but for me? It’s perfect. When I want to unwind with a glass of wine at the end of the day or need to soften my subway commute to the office, this is what I listen to.
THE TEMPER TRAP: Conditions — The jury is still out on this release… Jon and Farrah Lamareaux, who never lead me astray on music reviews, recommend this group. They saw them live and really enjoyed them.And I trust their taste, so didn’t hesitate to download this album. However, I haven’t quite had the time to listen to it in its entirety, which is the only way to really get a sense for the group. Right now, it has its moments, and I am looking forward to taking the time for a serious listen. Jon and Farrah? May you be as accurate as ever… No pressure…
ZERO 7: Simple Things — This was another Starbucks find… I guess the $5 a day latte addiction has benefits, after all. You may recognize some of their work on mixed releases like “Downtown Lounge” and the like. This release is definitely polarizing. I like it, but then, this style of music soothes me. For some, it can be monotonous. It’s like Sade, but without vocals. You can usually predict where it’s going, but don’t really mind that. The simplicity and purity get you through.
SADE: Soldier of Love — Speaking of Sade, here she is. Still sulky, silky, and just raw enough to make you listen closer. This was a long awaited release, and while some may think too much time lapsed between her time in the studio and that her “old stuff” got to much play time, I disagree. Her “old stuff” is iconic, as is she. Her new stuff? It’s good. It’s solid. It’s Sade. And Geronimo still loves her. That’s what counts. If an artist can seduce a Sun Conure parrot? She’s golden in my book.
ADAM LAMBERT: Various — Yes, Adam Lambert. Whether you like the eyeliner or not, the kid has pipes. What a gift! And actually, he is one of those artists that I pick and choose the singles I want to download. I don’t think I’m ready for a full 13 – 15 songs of this guy. But when I choose what I want? He rocks. Check out “No Boundaries,” “Whadaya Want From Me?” and “Hour Glass.” While I enjoy the vocal tricks and the rock tenor stratosphere for which he is known, he shows some additional color and gravel here that hint at what is to come when the hoopla passes. I’m looking forward to a few years down the road when he is settling into his own voice, rather than what producers and American Idol are requiring of him.