Happy Tuesday everybody! I’m still recovering from Pride weekend but I want to send a shout out to the girl who saw me on the street and shouted, “Hey, you’re Mia from AfterEllen!” hope you enjoyed your Pride as well. We’ve got some hits and misses with today’s new releases and there’s a good chance I’ll upset a couple of people. Whatever you do, please don’t yell. I’m not sure my brain could take it.
Selena Gomez — When the Sun Goes Down (Hollywood Records)
I wonder if it’s weird for Selena to date someone whose voice is higher than hers. To be completely honest, this album is taking me by surprise in that I’m not hating it. In fact, it’s catchy and her voice is maturing nicely. I’d like to see her performing live to see if she can match this without producers and mixers, because on this first listen it’s a great pop album. Yes, many of the songs sound exactly the same but they’re different enough for almost all of them to be released as singles. I mean, holy crap, she sounds like Pink on “We Own the Night.” So, don’t judge me but she’s getting today’s top spot.
Dolly Parton — Better Day (Dolly Records)
I can’t help but get a smile on my face whenever I see Dolly’s name. She is a pop-country and bluegrass queen and her voice, much like Wanda Jackson, is one that holds up no matter what year it is. Will this be my summer album? Probably not. But Dolly is one of those artists you get a hankering for and when it’s time to hear her sweet voice, it’s good to have as much of her music on hand as possible.
Beyoncé — 4 (Sony Music)
Oh Bey, I’m just not sure about this one. The album’s first song, “1 + 1,” is a poor choice to get things started and feels like an eternity to get through. I really want to like this because when it comes to entertaining and putting out some serious jams, Beyoncé has always been a leader in the industry.
The overall theme I’m getting from most of the songs seem to be of love lost or being angry about a past relationship, and I think that’s where things may have gone wrong.
When we’ve gotten breakup albums like Adele’s 21 that come directly from the heart that was broken, you can not only hear but feel the emotions being sung. Beyoncé’s got a seemingly happy marriage and the emotions behind this album just don’t seem to add up and come together for me. Not every song needs to be a hit, and not all of them need to make me want to dance, but having the only song on the album to fill that need be the last one, “Run the World (Girls),” is bad planning.
Gillian Welch — The Harrow & The Harvest (Acony)
This Southern folk rock makes me want to go to the lake with a cooler of bloody marys to reread The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Welch takes a very minimalist approach to her songs but her music is not without power.
Eilen Jewell — Queen of the Minor Key (Signature Sounds)
Bluesy, folky and with a hint of rockabilly: I’m enjoying Jewell’s sound and the confidence behind her voice. I’m a big fan of her storytelling abilities.
Honorable Mentions: Handsome Furs (this album is dope!), Jolie Holland, Marianne Faithful, Rave On Buddy Holly compilation (features lots of great acts like Patti Smith, Fiona Apple, Florence Welch, The Black Keys and more), Burn Halo, Thievery Corporation, Big Sean, Limp Bizkit (it pained me to put them here), Florence + the Machine Live at the Wiltern, Wynter Gordon and Akron/Family.