Diana Krall delivers timeless tunes
Diana Krall, "Glad Rag Doll" (Verve)
Diana Krall's "Glad Rag Doll" instantly grabs your attention, and not just because of the provocative cover art featuring the lovely singer decked out in, well, not much.
It's the songs, and T Bone Burnett's usual excellent production, that are the real draw here.
There are no lilting orchestras or dreamy string quartets followers of Krall have come to expect. Sure, her signature piano is there, along with her smoky vocals, but it's Marc Ribot's guitar that establishes a ghostly, vaudevillian feel to the mostly jazz songs Krall covers.
Everything comes together to serve the Prohibition-era theme of the record perfectly. Even a song written in the 1950s - Doc Pomus' "Lonely Avenue" - seems right at home.
Throw in a tasteful amount of Mellotron, ukulele, banjo and bass and "Glad Rag Doll" rocks. It rolls. It swings. It shuffles. It's sexy, sly, intimate and exhilarating.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: "Let it Rain," a modern take on the 1925 Gene Austin song, sounds both utterly modern and timeless. That's something that's not easy to pull off, but Krall does it in a way that seems effortless.
Miguel propels R&B on 'Kaleidoscope Dream'
Miguel, "Kaleidoscope Dream" (ByStorm/RCA Records)
Miguel's sophomore effort "Kaleidoscope Dream" oozes sex with a bit of rock 'n' roll and funk, further elevating and pushing the elasticity of R&B like other acts including Frank Ocean, the Weeknd and Jhene Aiko.
The Grammy-nominated singer had mild success with hits "Quickie" and "Sure Thing" from his 2010 debut "All I Want Is You." He's also recognized for his feature on rapper Wale's "Lotus Flower Bomb" in 2011 and his stellar three-volume EP "Art Dealer Chic" released earlier this year.
The new album's first single "Adorn," which is No. 1 on Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop Singles chart, is a sensual, addictive jam.
The 11-track set is packed with bedroom grooves including the 808-booming "Arch & Point" and the melodious, erotic "Use Me.
Miguel proves he's a master of wordplay on "Do You ...," a mellow, hippie love ode produced by Jerry Wonda, where he croons "I'm gonna do you like drugs tonight." He also flexes his alternative edge on "Don't Look Back," which samples the Zombies' "Time of the Season."
He leaves the bedroom for the more conscious, stirring tracks like "Candles in the Sun" and the top-notch "Where's the Fun in Forever." On the track, co-written by Alicia Keys, Miguel sings, "Tomorrow's just a day away, tomorrow isn't promised/Where's the fun in forever. Celebrate."
The album's title track is aptly named with a mesmerizing blend of funky bass line, electric guitar, strings and layered vocals.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: Miguel's falsetto glides over a knocking hip-hop beat on the Salaam Remi-produced "How Many Drinks?" about the all too familiar tale of meeting someone at the bar and taking them home.
Stacey A. Anderson
DJ Drama gathers rap's best on new album
DJ Drama, "Quality Street Music" (E1 Music)
DJ Drama has earned respect in the music industry for boosting numerous careers of rappers such as Lil Wayne, T.I. and Young Jeezy through his popular mixtape series, "Gangsta Grillz."
The success of the mixtapes helped ignite Drama's popularity too: He is one of the few DJs in hip-hop to land a record deal, releasing his debut album, "Gangsta Grillz: The Album" in 2007.
Now, Drama returns with his fourth offering "Quality Street Music," a 15-track album filled mostly with hard-thumping, high-energy street anthem songs. The album features a cast of rappers and singers that includes Drake, Common, Wiz Khalifa, T-Pain and Llyod.
Drama makes it all work with his uniquely assembled combination of artists meshed alongside solid production work. This is clear on the album's singles, "My Moment" featuring 2 Chainz, Meek Mill and Jeremih, and "We In This Bitch" with Young Jeezy, T.I., Ludacris and Future.
One of the album's highlights is the Cardiak-produced "Never Die," featuring Jadakiss, Cee Lo Green, Nipsey Hussle and Young Jeezy. With Cee Lo singing chorus, each of the rappers talks about how they were able to survive their own gritty streets.
Other standout songs are the V12: The Hitman-produced tracks "Clouds" featuring Rick Ross, Miguel, Pusha T and Curren$y, and "Same 'Ol Story," with Kid Ink, Schoolboy Q, Corey Gunz and Childish Gambino.
There are some downfalls here, but overall Drama delivers another respectable album. He continues to show he's one of hip-hop's top curators, creating a musical platform for artists so they can all flourish together.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: On "Monique's Room," rapper Fred The Godson seeks revenge toward an untrustworthy former mate.
Jonathan Landrum Jr
Copyright 2012, The Associated Press