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flag (Ottawa , Ontario)

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Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?
Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?
Price: CDN$ 25.35
32 used & new from CDN$ 5.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At once sensually earthy and theatrically camp, she is without a doubt unique and a breath of fresh air., Nov. 25 2009
Some recents headlines described Paloma Faith as "the vamp who's not just another Amy wannabe".
Well maybe there is a lot more to the 24-year old Londoner than her stylistic resemblance to Amy Winehouse, but the Amy impression is what strikes you most forcibly about this album.
To speak in contemporary terms, throw in a dollop of Amy's soul into a pot, a dash of Duffy's melodies, boil in some of Lady Gaga's attitude and imagination with a sprinkling of Florence and The Machine's quirkiness and you may just create yourself Paloma.
Enough to make your mouth water...
The record is an echo of the half Spanish/half British singer's former life as a magicians assistant, former burlesque dancer and 'Agent Provocateur' employee.
All of these former jobs contribute to her sense of style, voice and presence.
It's there not just in the expansive reimaginings of classic soul themes, the boldness and brassiness of the arrangements, but even in the intonation, the exaggerated vocal inflections Paloma Faith lends to a song.
The overall sound of the album is a nod to the fifties with additional blues, a backing of r'n'b and a whole lot of soul.
Paloma name checks Etta James, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee amongst her idols along with more recent artists like PJ Harvey, The Noisettes but also the latest Regina Belle and Jill Scott may come to mind as her big influences.
Every song and the album as a whole can be visualised as a luxurious big band performance or circus feature. The big drums, trumpets and the loud backing vocals create this highlighted presence of the petite siren.
That said, she's an excellent singer and there is some very solid material here, songs such as "Stone Cold Sober" and "Smoke & Mirrors" shot through with 60s R&B. The ballads "Stargazer" and "Play On", the latter a surefire success, hark back to an even earlier era.
Listening to the the bouncy Bette Midler-like "Upside Down" and the soulful torch song and current single "New York", which is picking up big interest everywhere in Europe and now also in US, it's hard to believe that she's from Hackney, Greater London.
Give her a chance an listen to this soulful albumm.

In the Future
In the Future
Price: CDN$ 18.09
27 used & new from CDN$ 6.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Coherent and captivating., Jan. 22 2008
This review is from: In the Future (Audio CD)
Black Mountain - the most public face of the Vancouver-based "Army" of the same name, a collective of likeminded musicians with amps set to nerve-stun levels and guitars possessed by wailing blues ghouls - have been busy since the release of their self-titled debut in 2005.
Following the sleeper success of their debut "Black Mountain" - which saw them invited to support Coldplay on a North American arena tour - the band apparently cloistered themselves in the studio to record for 14 days straight, barely pausing to eat or see daylight.
The second album from the Canadian prog band continues to take the basic musical building blocks of duelling guitars and pounding drums to construct a rock monster.
This is a CD alive with tales of witches, demons, sun cults, and one 17-minute song, "Bright Lights", whose sole lyrics warn us of impending war, destruction and darkness.
Stephen McBean and his buddies don't hold back, with "Tyrants" - a 1970s metal moan against anonymous bad men - stretching over eight minutes in a face-shredding three-part epic, while "Bright Lights" - with its ambitious but unwieldy mixture of electroacoustic free noise and clumping rock grooves - clocks in at twice that.
Amber Weber's vocals add depth to the riffmungus workouts, ranging from Thin Lizzy-style repetition to more contemplative passages in "Wucan".
Through ragingly volatile highs and purposely sluggish lows - more ups than downs, literally and critically - Black Mountain surely show off their greatest recording achievement to date here.
It's captivating, cosmic stuff. The band (who all still hold down day jobs as mental healthcare and drug rehabilitation workers) switch between swamp and space with admirable grace, held together by singer Amber Webber's remarkably full-lunged vocals and Stephen McBean's bleak vision of the world.
Standouts : "Stormy High" and "Stay Free".

100 Days 100 Nights
100 Days 100 Nights
Price: CDN$ 16.29
33 used & new from CDN$ 9.36

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Soul music in its purest form., Jan. 22 2008
This review is from: 100 Days 100 Nights (Audio CD)
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings' third full-length is proof positive that musical quality will always triumph. Their subtle take on soul and funk is terrific fun for everyone and their success mocks any attempt at narrow definitions of genre, beauty, the female form and what is hip.
Raw, uncut soul at its best.
Take one look at the Dap Kings and you'd ask yourself, can these guys really bring the funk? Yes! They really, really can!
The third release for Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings is a little milder than their previous release "Naturally".
However, they still come at you hard nonetheless.
There's really no track that stands out more than the other as the entire disc just flows at a crisp pace.
The disc begins with the title track. A semi-slow burner that has everything that you loved about soul music, live instrumentation, warm harmonies and a lead voice that packs a punch.
Midway through the song, Sharon pauses for a second, slows down the pace and reasserts herself while the Dap Kings break it down to another level.
"Nobody's Baby" has a funky mid-tempo beat that will surely have your head noddin', albeit a bit short at just over two minutes.
That's a minor quibble that you can deal with. What's more important is serenading yourself with ten tracks of soul music in its purest form.
"100 Days, 100 Nights" is no pastiche, no imitation or approximation. This disc burns for sixty minutes.
You will love it.

Duets: Friends & Legends
Duets: Friends & Legends
Price: CDN$ 14.97
34 used & new from CDN$ 5.52

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It is good but not thrilling., Jan. 14 2008
Anne Murray has re-recorded her best-known songs as duets with an all-female group of collaborators including Canadians Shania Twain, Nelly Furtado, k.d. Lang, Jann Arden, Isabelle Boulay, her own daughter Dawn Langstroth and the ubiquitous Selline Dion.
The roster of guests is really impressive and includes also Emmylou Harris, Carole King, Martina McBride, Shelby Lynne, Amy Grant, Celtic Woman, Indigo Girls and the late Dusty Springfirld.
It was Anne who suggested the all-female idea to help whittle down the artists involved.
She was particularly thrilled that her daughter and son Will also sang background vocals with her on "You Won't See Me", a duet with Shelby Lynne, marking the first time all three family members have been in the studio together.
"I Just Fall in Love Again" with the late Dusty Springfield is a real historical curiosity, in addition to being a lovely song.
Dusty cut it on her 1979 album Living Without Your Love, on which she seemed to have been abandoned by her record label.
Anne cut the song on her album "New Kind of Feeling" and it made the top of the country chart in 1979.
For this current production, she duets with Springfield's original vocal, and the result is good.
While Anne's voice may not have the power and range of her prime it is still an excellent instrument and a joy to listen to.
It's an all-girl sleepover produced by music guru Phil Ramone (Johnny Cash, The Beastie Boys, Neil Diamond).
All of Murray's hits (including "Snowbird," "You Needed Me" and "Danny's Song") are here, newly recorded with a support group of her friends.
I cannot claim to have been familiar with all the songs and the artists who appear on this album but having heard their performances I will be trying out some of their other work.
All of the songs will be familiar to Anne's fans and many appear on the numerous compilation albums of his work. These are the songs that she has sung for years. She has never compromised as a singer always singing the songs she wanted to in her own style rather than being a slave to passing fashions in popular music.
This has meant that her popularity has varied over the years but gives her work an integrity and strength that each new generation rediscovers.
All in all, it's a good album.
It is not too surprising, since you recognize instantly the commercial nature of it and the marketing idea behind the formulaic project.
My highligts are : "Somebody's Always Saying Goodbye" with Jann Arden, and "A Love Song" with k.d. lang.

Asturiana - Songs From Spain And Argentina
Asturiana - Songs From Spain And Argentina
Price: CDN$ 21.55
19 used & new from CDN$ 12.34

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating., Jan. 9 2008
Kashkashian's and Levin's duo, dating from the mid-70s, is a true musical partnership, observed especially in their ECM discs from "Elegies"(1986) onwards, including Schumann, Brahms, Hindemith, Shostakovich and others.
It is the difference between their musical approaches - Kashkashian's lyricism and love for the melodic line combined with Levin's strong interest in structure and stylistic considerations - that made this collaboration so fruitful.
In fact, this new cd demonstrates an extraordinary degree of freedom and flexibility, both rhythmically and sonically.
This time the two talented players go through different idioms in Spanish and Argentine song, re-interpreting them along the way.
Many of these songs were intended for larger groups of musicians and many were intended to have vocals, but never do you get the feeling that Kashkashian and Levin are stripping away anything that 'needed' to be there, rather the piano and the viola sing with more emotional tones than would usually be possible for a simple voice.
There is also beauty in the space provided - everything is given room to breathe, and like Satie the silence between the notes is just as important as the notes themselves.
The original pieces are from Manuel de Falla, Enrique Granados, Carlos Guastavino, Alberto Ginastera, Xavier Montsalvatge and Carlos Lopz Buchardo but whether these names are familiar or not there is something deeply familiar about their works, something linked intrinsically with European folk music that is impossible to ignore.
"Asturiana" is a gorgeous album which should appeal to anyone interested in the more minimal side of classical music (Sylvain Chauveau, Goldmund etc) and also any of you with an interest in Southern European folk music.

Always
Always
Offered by Rarewaves-CA
Price: CDN$ 17.52
11 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars She sings her soul out !, Jan. 6 2008
This review is from: Always (Audio CD)
Gabrielle was born Louise Bobb in Hackney, East London, 31 years ago.
She had a lazy eyelid, and even after two operations she still wears dark glasses in public. These have the effect of making her look like a glam R&B star (which she is), but her reason for wearing them is so she can be herself, unhampered by crippling self-consciousness.
While her voice is a soaring instrument, it is technically limited. However, it is slinky and feline and, crucially, in the best pop-soul tradition, it has the ability to turn a cliche into a profound truth, to lift the listener into a mellow orbit.
She is Britain's queen of soul and has come a long way since 1993, when as a gawky singer-songwriter her debut single "Dreams" went from club classic to number one.
The platinum-selling first album earned her a best newcomer Brit award, and over the next few years there was a generous crop of top-10 hits.
She released "Rise" at the end of 1999. It elevated her into stratospheric success, producing three more top-10 hits and a collection of awards that include two Brits, a Grammy and a Mobo.
There's the autobiographical streak in her work, she she has had extraordinary and traumatic experiences and emotional tribulations which inspired her.
This is the reason why at heart she seems like an ordinary girl with a bit of real 'Lady Sings the Blues' life thrown in. And it's this combination that saved her. In the end, it's her humanity, the fact that she's not goddess-perfect, which makes her so endearing as a star. It seems right that it is her voice we hear singing "Out of Reach", her single, which was the theme tune to the film "Bridget Jones's Diary".
"That's my appeal", she agrees. "You know, I never pretend to be anything but real - I don't live the celebrity lifestyle". And she really means it.
She has grown immeasurably in stylishness and confidence since her incredible rise to fame
As a result, "Always"'s success is down to the strength of the songs and there are some very good ones, although the lead single, "Why", based on Paul Weller's "Wild Wood", isn't one of them.
"I Remember", reminiscent of classic Marvin Gaye, is much stronger while the title track skips along at a fair old pace but never forgets to carry the tune with it.
"Always" is Gabrielle's fifth studio LP, and her first since 2004 , she is not prolific and is renowned for not releasing albums very often.
Like every album she's made since her 1993 debut, "Find Your Way", it's completely "Gabrielle" : soulful and passionate, but with an ungraspable quality that doesn't really equate with British soul music.
For the album, Gabrielle returned to her roots and worked with Julian Gallager and The Boilerhouse Boys both of whom have been behind many of her early hits.
Once again, Gabrielle has written every track on the album.
From the seventies soul influenced title track to the Motown-meets-rock stomp of "Heartbreaker" and the classic ballad "Closure".
"Always is a distillation of the classic Gabrielle sound, combining the emotion of Motown with immaculate, pure pop melody.
Along with "Rise", this is Gabrielle's finest album to date.

Divine Idylle
Divine Idylle
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 38.95
3 used & new from CDN$ 20.18

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Her latest musical offering has Freanch charm to spare., Jan. 6 2008
This review is from: Divine Idylle (Audio CD)
This is an exquisite pop album that oozes nouvelle vague.
Vanessa Paradis is to all intents and purposes the latter-day heiress to the French yé-yé girl tradition of Sixties sirens such as Françoise Hardy and Sylvie Vartan.
Some 19 years after she charmed the pants off the nation with "Joe Le Taxi", aged 14, Vanessa returns to music with a classy and thoughtful collection of French guitar pop.
On her fifth album after a seven year break, she sounds like she's having a ball.
Closer in spirit to her 1992 Lenny Kravitz produced album, "Divinidylle", which topped the French pop album chart last month while creating few ripples elsewhere, is another collaboration this time with fellow French guitar star Matthieu Chedid who also seems obsessed with the past.
The end result is quality songwriting with elements of vintage psychedelia, '70s folk and even cod-reggae seeping through the overall classic pop sheen, not least the sophisticated arrangements with which producer Mathieu Chedid surrounds her sultry low-register vocals on tracks like "Chet Baker" (strings, castanets, subtle slide guitar), "Les Revenants" (languid bass, organ, ondes Martenot and musical saw) and "Irresistiblement" (not the Vartan classic), into whose shuffling groove banjo and jug are seamlessly incorporated.
With the exception of the purposefully sweet title track Vanessa's voice has also matured.
Gone, for the most part, is that squeaky girl next door and replaced with the huskier, world weary voice of genuine passion heard on "Chet Baker".
The bouncy and instantly likeable "Dès Que J'te Vois" is the second track, that marries both of these extreme vocal styles whereas Vanessa loses herself in the music and sounds close to breaking point on the stark and ghostly ballad "Junior Suite".
The songs have been picked to match Paradis's growing maturity.
Worth mentioning the rhyming of "à tout a l'heure" with "à toute allure" in "Chet Baker" - while her solo composition "Jackadi" pays tribute to her partner Johnny Depp, who also created the sleeve illustration in the style of Gustav Klimt.
Unlike so many contemporary pop albums "Divinidylle" is gloriously short at just over 30 minutes long, but it's all about quality here and not quantity.
Album's highlights : "Chet Baker", "Jackadi", "Les Revenants'" and "Dès Que J'te Vois".

In Our Bedroom After the War (With Bonus DVD)
In Our Bedroom After the War (With Bonus DVD)
Price: CDN$ 16.89
24 used & new from CDN$ 9.66

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great retro sound., Dec 25 2007
The toast of the Canadian indie scene, Stars have made an album that deserves more attention than it got when it was initially released a couple of months back.
It's quite an 80s-sounding record - shifting between Bacharach-esque melodies ("My Favourite Book"), the occasional U2-style epic ("Take me to the Riot") and keyboard sounds that wouldn't have been out of place on a China Crisis B-side.
Lyrically, though, it's totally of its age and focuses on the fragile nature of modern love, from online dating to a romance that begins in the midst of a football riot.
Melodrama and melody have always been a good combination and Stars pull it off with style.

Lazy Afternoon
Lazy Afternoon
Price: CDN$ 17.12
19 used & new from CDN$ 8.86

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Regina's inventive approach., Dec 25 2007
This review is from: Lazy Afternoon (Audio CD)
There can't be many more pleasurable ways of spending over one hour than in the company of "Lazy Afternoon", Regina Belle's latest collection of twelve hand-picked jazz standards and Broadway tunes. Including material recalled from her childhood and teenage years, the singer's most personal recording to date features one spine-tingling song after another.
From the the gorgeous opener "Lazy Afternoon" to the stunning, colloquial closer, "Try a Little Tenderness", the singer delivers the set with an unswerving honesty and molten intensity. Whether burningly expressive in "Why Do People Fall In Love", playfully lyrical in "For The love of You" or heartbreakingly sincere in the emotional tour de force of "If I Should Lose You" (featuring her great friend George Duke in the piano chair in his best performance ever), Regina has you hanging on her every note.
The singer's inventive approach to standards is evidenced by the kaleidoscopic textures and varied moods of "Corcovado" - slowly chiming chords one moment, a sinuous groove the next. One of the singularly most powerful records I've heard all year.
This, you feel, is the album that Regina Belle has been waiting to record her whole life.

The Ultimate Collection
The Ultimate Collection
Offered by BEARDOS BAZAAR
Price: CDN$ 11.49
44 used & new from CDN$ 4.29

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some of her most persuasive performances., Dec 25 2007
This review is from: The Ultimate Collection (Audio CD)
"The Ultimate Collection" omits several of her best songs.
The anthemic "Step By Step", the elegant, jazz-tinged "I Learned From The Best" and the searing "Queen Of The Night" are all missing, their places taken by the grandstanding ballads that made Houston a superstar.
Over the years, these have tended to fall into two categories: the schlocky love songs that are as sweet and gooey ("Saving All My Love For You", "I Have Nothing", "Run To You"), and the inane self-empowerment anthems that have recently become "Am Idol" audition staples ("One Moment In Time", "Greatest Love Of All").
Too often, these saccharine songs are a waste of Houston's rich, powerful, opulent voice. Worse still, ballad-mode Houston has a tendency to scorch when she should be simmering: the way she smothers "I Will Always Love You" with melismatic vocal showboating is cold, crass and, ultimately, the very antithesis of soul.
Houston's floor-fillers have aged a little more gracefully, although their clunky, thudding drum sounds tend to be irreversibly eighties. Nevertheless, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" remains buoyant and unshakable; "So Emotional" houses one of Houston's most persuasive vocal performances.
However, Houston only truly justifies her superstar status on two tunes from 1998's "My Love Is Your Love" collection, a largely successful attempt at reinventing the increasingly fusty belter for a contemporary audience. Playing the wronged woman over Rodney Jerkins' percolating R&B rhythms on "It's Not Right But It's Okay", she sounds spectacular, while Wyclef Jean's tender, romantic "My Love Is Your Love" manages to humanise an artist who's often seemed like a robotic octave-conquering machine.
If today's hitmakers can pull off the same trick - rumour has it Houston's currently sharing studio space with Ne-Yo, will.i.am and Akon - that dazzling voice could still realise its true potential.

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