Blame it on my Roots Garth Brooks
Pearl Records

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

the man who has sold more albums than anyone (i think), garth brooks, has
released an astounding package of five albums (one a double) and a dvd of his
live vegas extravaganza entitled "blame it all on my roots." now, in the
late '80s, his former co-manager pam lewis brought him to nyc to play a solo
show at the lone star cafe. sure garth doesn't have the looks of a georgs
strait or alan jackson. he wasn't the rebel that waylon jennings or willie
nelson was. nor did he have the radical politics or glorious voice that johnny cash had. but when he started

singing at the lone star i couldn't stop laughing at his sense of humor nor could i stop crying at his genuine

soul. my "billboard" magazine comrade told pam not to sign him--"he's too chunky". i, on the other hand, told my

mtv comrade, pam, to get him and don't let go. we offered to show him the town. as a 47 year veteran of nyc,

including two as a cabbie, it was an offer he, unfortunately, refused. we took him back to the hotel and then

headed downtown. garth brooks spent many years at capitol records and sold zillions of records. the singer's mix 

of country with album-oriented rock and middle-of-the-road pop came out just as the baby boom
generation was looking for a new sound to grow old with. but brooks' music also resonates with younger heartland

fans who fall outside the postpunk and urban demographics. the singer's impact on popular music cannot be

overestimated: his influence runs that deep. 

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Midnight Memories One Direction
Columbia

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

one direction has released their third studio album, "midnight memories."
their beautiful sounds showcase the growth of the band and their mature
sound. they rise to the occassion, exuding flow, passion, new ideas and charisma
throughout.

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Nothing was the Same Drake
Cash Money

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

drake has released his third album "nothing was the same." and it's about
time. there's never been a hip-hop star like him. his taste in beats runs to
gloomy synths. the man is full of doubts and regrets. most rap stars just
brag away, all day. drake raps in a quiet style, a suave singsong. and drake
doesn't hide his flaws--his passive-aggressive soul hits on his exes or
himself is his favorite way of bragging. the question of "nothing was the same" are the lyrics, and the way he

delivers them. the thing about great hip-hop lyrics is that you never know where they come from. they're a

patchwork of composition--people take a line and embellish it with their own verses. but i never heard anything

like this. this album is purely original. a "must buy" album. 

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Dream with me Annette
Indie

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

annette's "dream with me" is a decidedly jazz album with a fresh
contemporary feel--subtle hues of soul, blues, funk and pop. sometimes it takes
alot for an artist to make you happy. this album does it for me. the range of
annette is truly great--she can really sing like a bird.   

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Yellow Petals Jon Di Fiore
Third Freedom Music

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

jon di fiori's trio has been performing together extensively for four years
and has clearly developed an ensemble identity that should be a model for
all ensembles in pursuit of the trascendent. the sound of "yellow petals" is
incredibly powerful. it sounds like three skinny kids have mustered the
force of the voice of ray charles. it's impossible, but they did it. check it
out.  

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Prism Katy Perry
Capitol Records (Universal)

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

it's seriously amazing that katy perry crams so many souls, flimsy and
deep, into one album, "prism." she has always done a great job of letting us
know she's in on the joke of pop stardom. although sometimes the joke is on her
and we know it. and sometimes the joke is on us and she knows it. she goes
to a place outside herself, especially in front of the audience.  

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Foreverly Billie Joe & Norah
Warner Bros.

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

here's a set of folk duets, entitled "foreverly" by billie joe (green day's
armstrong) and norah (jones.) this is the second unbelievably great everly
brothers album lately. this is a faithful, touching recreation. when i
listened to this record there was something that burst out of the ground and
sorrounded me--like children and flowers and foreign lands were appearing out of
nowhere. and when the voices come in i could swear there must be two gods.  

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Bangerz Miley Cyrus
RCA

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

here's the party grenade record that only miley could put together. miley
cyrus' "bangerz" goes all over the map, rapping, rocking and knocking country
like no one else. she's got terror. she's got power. i've liked music with
energy, with underlying heavyness. but i've also been interested in the
simplicity of a song. at the heart of miley's music is real skill: a cycle of
verse, bridge and chorus.

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Night Visions Imagine Dragons
Interscope Records

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

what we have here is a band from las vegas that's hit an emotional and
melodic peak. they are called imagine dragons and their album is called "night
visions." now i'll leave all the sin city jokes to others. dan reynolds is
their front man, and there's one thing any singer should learn from him. never
rest. keep learning, and be a good listener. the rock world includes hard
work as well as charisma. both are part of learning the business and the art. 

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My own Lane Kid Ink
RCA

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

don't look for kid ink to provide deep wisdom on "my own lane." but the cat
does have a way with words and tattoos. you'll get a parade of jams
involving weed, drink and sketchy sex. there's also sound business advice with
rare romantic interludes. but don't sweat; the party rolls on.  

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Anthem for a New Day Helen Sung
Concord

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

pianist/composer helen sung tells us that "this is the first project where
i feel the most comfortable with who i am as an artist." her glorious jazz
makes me feel as if she was sitting calmly under the stars, then walking
calmly in the beautiful night. all of a sudden there's a hailstorm and she
captures the experience with her band and piano.   

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20 feet from Stardom 20 feet from Stardom
Columbia

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

let's understand this: anytime a soundtrack begins with the late lou reed
singing "walk on the wild side" you're in for a musical treat. that's what
the soundtrack from "20 feet from stardom" is, and lou is followed by talking
heads, the crystals ("he's a rebel"), joe cocker, david bowie and on and on
we go. the film shines the spotlight of the untold true story of backup
singers, a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent
harmonizing with others.   

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Halfway between Heaven & Love Suzanna Smith
CD Baby

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

suzanna smith delivers one of last year's most impressive vocal projects,
an intoxicating mix of original tunes and beautifully rendered standards. a
lot of her free-form singing on "halfway between heaven & love" comes from
her band's rhythm and the churchbell feeling of the way the guitar and piano
sing. suzanna glides vocally through all of that, and it's very natural.   

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Live at Montrenx 2006 Solomon Burke
Eagle Rock Entertainment

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

this performance from 2006 by solomon burke showcases his magnificent
voice, his humor and his spirituality on a selection of classic soul, gospel and
blues songs for the ultimate goodtime party is titled "live at montreaux
2006." his fans have always been legion and devoted. mr. burke always stayed
close to the music he felt in his heart, cutting a huge bunch of exemplary
records.   

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Mechanical Bull King of Leon
RCA

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

preachers' sons who grew up on the road, laying down the holy-roller boogie
in churches across the south. kings of leon come by their scuffed, scruffey
sound honestly on "mechanical bull." and frontman, caleb followill, is
caught in a tug of war between hope and despair. the band are usa masters; old
friends plying their craft as a stalwart response to scary times, just
because it feels right.  

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Internal Sounds The Sadies
Yep Roc Records

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

the sadies have released their 16th studio album, "internal sounds." they
have developed, no perfected, a style of music that is uniquely their own, an
incredible mix of country, bluegrass and blues. what you expected a screwed
and chopped record with dallas good in the front. he is the man, and he
doesn't mass around with fashion

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Trampled Under Foot Badlands
Telarc

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

after years of playing in separate bands, danielle, kris and nick decided
to keep things in the family and formed trampled under foot and released
their debut album "badlands." danielle, the lead singer, takes a series of
star-crossed characters down to america's blues highway, while spitting venom at
a series of usa's hypocrisies, like phony patriotism and crass
commercialism.   

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Back to Brooklyn Barbra
Columbia

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

now i'm sure you know that the one and only barbra streisand comes from
brooklyn. and if you're the only one in the world who's ignorant of that fact,
you better pick up her cd/dvd "back to brooklyn." one of the most popular
and famous artists of all time treats you to her years growing up in brooklyn,
just south of my neighborhood in manhattan. her gloroius singing voice has
enthralled anyone who has heard it, and she reached her stardom in the midst
of the rock and roll world. and then she gently stepped on the stage and
into hollywood. she deserves it all. think about it for a few minutes without
crying. what has she given us.   

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The Peter Ulrich The Painted Caravan
AIS Records

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

"the painted caravan" by the peter ulrich collaboration is a collection of
tracks that journey through international influences--ancient, modern and
immediately contemporary. they combine near suicidel excess with hairpin-turn
discipline to create the most confounding and commanding rock album of this
young year.  

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When I get my Pay The Grascals
Mountain Home Music Company

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

is it time to check out some bluegrass working class heroes. well then it's
time to pick up the latest by the grascals entitled "when i get my pay."
first of all there's dierks bentley as a special guest. second, they've been
nominated for grammies three times. third, there's jamie johnson singing all
over the place. and most of all, the album's greatness lies in its fully
formed characters and harrowing stories.  

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Yes, I believe I will Steve Howell & The Mighty Men
Out Of The Past Music LLC

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

master texas acoustic guitarist and singer steve howell with his band the
mighty men perform a range of soulful music burning with inner flames growing
brighter with each listening, while revealing layers of expression often
lost in high decibel electric blues. on the explosive album "yes, i believe i
will" steve belts like he's crying with joy with a powerful, bass voice. 

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