JOSS STONE

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

ings of each of their al­bums. On­stage Jones is a wild­card who loves to hear the sound of au­di­ences chant­ing his name, but off­stage he is al­most soft-spo­ken while he and his long­time band­mate, bassist John Cal­abrese, along with a re­volv­ing door of drum­mers, are bru­tally hon­est in de­tail­ing the highs and lows of life on the road and the band’s am­bi­tions.

“We want to be the great­est band in the world; we want to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” Jones says near the end of the fea­ture.

The two-disc set also fea­tures a 23-minute short film — the Bal­lad of Danko Jones — along with 14 live per­for­mances rang­ing from 1996 to 2011 and 19 videos. Bring it on.

bearded Ross has made strides as a lyri­cist and sto­ry­teller. His husky voice is full of bravado with elo­quence that is easy to di­gest. He stays in his fa­mil­iar lane, rap­ping about grimy street life, his large stash of cash, lux­ury cars, women and his rise from rags to riches.

Ross mea­sures up with Jay-Z and Dr. Dre on 3 Kings, and his col­lab­o­ra­tion with An­dre 3000 on Six­teen makes for an en­joy­able lis­ten. The al­bum is also filled with other club bangers and street an­thems.

With God For­gives, Ross is con­sis­tent, and it sounds clas­sic.

½ NEARLY a decade af­ter un­leash­ing The Soul Ses­sions — and her voice — on the world at the age of 16, British vo­cal­ist Joss Stone re­turns with a se­quel. On the orig­i­nal 2003 al­bum, Stone showed off her pow­er­ful pipes on a set of well-known and ob­scure 1960s and ’70s soul and R&B nuggets by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Wil­lie Garner, Laura Lee, the Is­ley Broth­ers and Bet­tye Swann. This time Stone mostly sticks to the 1970s and ’80s with her take on ma­te­rial from the likes of Womack & Womack ( Teardrops), the Chi-Lites ( For God’s Sake, Give More Power to the Peo­ple) and Don Cherry ( Then You Can Tell Me Good­bye).

No mat­ter whether she is delv­ing deep into emo­tional balladry or hav­ing some fun – the 2010 Bro­ken Bells’ The High Road stands out much like her ver­sion of the White Stripes’ Fell in Love With a Girl did on the first Soul Ses­sions — Stone’s voice is front and cen­tre sound­ing ma­ture, con­fi­dent and pow­er­ful with the ex­cep­tion of Sylvia’s Pil­low Talk, where she come across a lit­tle too much like Olivia New­ton John at her most sac­cha­rine. There are some parts of the ’70s we can for­get about.

Some of the ar­range­ments could be a lit­tle more in­ter­est­ing, too — with­out Stone’s tal­ent a few would verge on be­ing skip­pable, rather than merely for­get­table.

Af­ter a few mis­steps over the course of her ca­reer, the look back ap­pears to be a good one for the young diva even if there aren’t any ma­jor sur­prises. Fans of the first al­bum should check in with Stone for a lis­ten­ing ses­sion or two. des­per­ate for any and all at­ten­tion, then this is your al­bum. Don’t shoot the mes­sen­ger, but have we not had enough of this kind of over-pro­duced doo-doo? On a lighter note, the gal can sing, which ap­par­ently is part of what she is sell­ing here. Well, that and dance floor-driven tracks with ques­tion­able lyri­cal con­tent aimed at pre-teen girls and boys itch­ing to be­come sex­u­al­ized adults in less time than it takes to write lyrics like, “I’m miss su­gar pink liquor, liquor lips, I’m gonna be your bub­blegum b-tch,” or, “I wanna be a bot­tle blonde, I wanna be an idle teen, I wish I hadn’t been so clean.”

It’s just taste­less enough to be a huge suc­cess. ½ MIS­SIS­SIPPI main­stream rock­ers Sav­ing Abel is a band that prob­a­bly feels no shame what­so­ever in be­ing lumped in with in­sipid con­tem­po­raries like Nick­el­back, Buckcherry, Papa Roach and Creed. In­deed, noth­ing much sets the quintet apart from their noisy mates, but at least their third al­bum, the fre­quently generic Bring­ing Down the Gi­ant, tries to bust out of the fes­ter­ing mould for a cou­ple of tunes. Let’s face it folks, the genre is fairly con­stric­tive. If there weren’t turgid rock­ers like I’ll Do It Again, Bit­ter­sweet and the aw­ful Those Who Wait — fea­tur­ing the bril­liantly te­dious lyri­cal cou­plet, “Cuz all the good things, come to those who wait” — no one would buy this al­bum. The band’s more straight­laced fans may balk at the metal/coun­try twang of Pine Moun­tain and the pot-ket­tle-black lyrics of You Make Me Sick, but in the end these guys are just Vel­vet Re­volver for south­ern folks. ½ LOS Angeles-based singer­song­writer Joshua Radin is best known for plac­ing his mu­sic in a va­ri­ety of tele­vi­sion se­ries rang­ing from Scrubs to Grey’s Anatomy and it’s easy to see why: Radin has per­fected that unas­sum­ing adult con­tem­po­rary pop and pas­toral folk style that fades nicely into the back­ground of any scene.

Radin’s aching, breathy voice rides pleas­antly above his acous­tic gui­tar on these 12 melodic tracks that find the mid­dle ground be­tween the laid back vibe of Jack John­son and rocky moun­tain high of John Den­ver. There are some light or­ches­tral flour­ishes on al­bum high­light The Green­est Grass and The Wil­low, but mostly it’s a low key, som­nam­bu­lant of­fer­ing per­fect for those mo­ments in life when you need some anony­mous mu­sic as your sound­track. ½ SARA Gazarek’s singing is im­pec­ca­ble over 12 tracks on this al­bum in­flu­enced by Blos­som Dearie.

It’s not a trib­ute al­bum; Gazarek is just one of many singers who ap­pre­ci­ate Dearie’s one-ofa-kind voice and de­liv­ery.

The ti­tle track is Gazarek’s but you could hear Dearie per­form­ing it. Singer-gui­tarist John Piz­zarelli joins Gazarek on the re­laxed love song.

The disc in­cludes stan­dards like Tea for Two, Down With Love and I’m Old Fash­ioned as well as a heart­felt The Luck­i­est, from Ben Folds’ pen. It closes with Un­pack Your Ad­jec­tives, a song Dearie sang on the TV show School­house Rock.

Gazarek ends a five-year record­ing hia­tus with this stylish al­bum, backed by crack mu­si­cians, in­clud­ing pro­ducer Larry Gold­ings on or­gan. GUS­TAV Holst had a tri­umph with The Plan­ets when it pre­miered in 1920 and half of this pro­gram shows the com­poser in sim­i­lar voice. Writ­ten for a Ja­panese dancer while The Plan­ets was ges­tat­ing, Ja­panese Suite is very at­trac­tive, with colours and or­ches­tra­tions that nat­u­rally off­shoot the for­mer work. In­dra works just as well, though its le­gends of In­dia are dis­tinctly English.

The other, ear­lier items go in the di­rec­tion of the Ro­man­tics: Brahms and es­pe­cially Dvorák, as the young Holst was de­vel­op­ing his style un­der his teacher Charles Vil­liers Stan­ford, the “Ir­ish Brahms” as he be­came known. The Cotswolds Sym­phony is most en­joy­able, with a sub­stan­tially ele­giac slow move­ment in mem­ory of utopian so­cial­ist Wil­liam Mor­ris whom the com­poser ad­mired. Ditto the other items.

This is JoAnn Fal­letta’s first record­ing in her new post as the ex­cel­lent Ul­ster Or­ches­tra’s prin­ci­pal con­duc­tor. She draws well de­tailed per­for­mances, though the El­egy’s grav­i­tas doesn’t quite reg­is­ter. ½

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