Partners Barbra Streisand
Columbia

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

Barbra has released her first duets album in a decade.  Among the lucky
men are Billy Joel, Stevie wonder, Lionel Richie, etc. throughout her
career, Barbra Streisand has generously shared microphone and spotlight to create some of the most magical duets in musical history. She has become the most successful female singer in her generation despite the popularity of the rock and roll world. Even rockers agree that she has an amazing and pure sound. She creates dramatic lyrics. Each song is like a one-act play. As a
veteran of the heavy metal punk, country world this city kid agrees with her and Billy Joel when they croon "I’m in a New York state of mind.

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Sundown Heaven Town Tim McGraw
Big Machine Records

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

There is something to be said for consistency, and at this point it's clear
the Tim and his gang are getting first dibs at the cream of the crop from
music row's resident tunesmiths. The man still creates emotional knockouts,
and as a betting man, my deuce says that he always will.

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Foreign Land 3 Winans Brothers
Entertainment One Music

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

They hail from Detroit. Their contemporary black gospel style reflects
traditional black gospel roots. They sang gospel all their lives and began their musical career in the 1980s. Their real, muddy, jazzy, percussive sound is so right for the holidays. This ain't Hollywood, it's the real thing. As the man once said this ain't no disco, no cbgb's, this ain't no foolin' around.

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Voices from Heaven Tron Syversen, Runar Halonen
TK Music Production AS

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

Best-selling Norwegian new age music keyboardist Tron Syversen has teamed
with wordless vocalist Runar Halonen to create the powerful and therapeutic
recording, "voices from heaven," a masterpiece of ambient and improvisational sound healing. If his masterwork was a solitary quest for perfection, this is a massive group hug.

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Oxygen: Inhale Thousand Foot Krutch
TFK MUSIC

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

Since hitting the scene in 1997, Thousand Foot Krutch has been an engine of
forward motion through the music industry. The real hero is the lead
singer, Trevor Mcnevan, who gives emotional punch when he uses his voice on every chorus and verse. Like much of the album, he's private, idiosyncratic and bittersweet, all at once.

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Carol Barnett: Treasures from the Archives Minnesota Music Educators Association All-State Women's Choir
Navona

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

Carol Barnett presents shining choral arrangements and originals from the
composer's diverse catalog as interpreted by several choral groups, which
gives the pieces an added tonal quality and presence. Carol offers solace,
telling the listener everything will turn out fine.

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Groundswell Moraine
Moonjune Records

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

Moraine's long-anticipated third album for moon June, "groundswell," marks a
major step forward for the shape-shifting Seattle-based instrumental
juggernaut. They are lead by seasoned guitarist, Dennis Rea, who's a very
disciplined artist. He and his partners are completely dedicated to their craft. Their sound has changed somewhat, there is a different texture, a stronger sound.

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One of These Roads Brett Larson
House of Mercy Recordings

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

Brett Larson sings of love lost and love found, family and the Minnesota
winter. His dark humor is strong. He sings of the frigid Minnesota wind. He’s a "dead end road." the beauty of experiencing Larson’s art was found just sitting in my living room, hearing his music. That was my entertainment for the night, it was very surreal.

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The 21st Century Trad Band Jason Marsalis
Basin Street Records

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

The youngest of the New Orleans' Marsalis jazz dynasty is back. Backed once
again by three jazz geniuses, Jason Marsalis puts the spotlight on his
bands perfect technical skill. But the 21st century trad band goes much further. Please understand that they are difficult to follow. What they do is so complex. Their sense of pitch and melody is so sophisticated. Their sounds are perfect, flawless in their own way.

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The Viewv The Roys
Rural Rhythm

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

Since 2011, when lee and Elaine Roy, the brother/sister duo known as the
Roys, first caught the attention of the bluegrass world, with their critically acclaimed top-10 debut album, "lonesome whistle" they've been ceaseless to capture the hearts of fans everywhere. It was a moment when the entire world of music was being turned upside down. They got a lot of people excited to make music for the first time. But their art also had a galvanizing effect on people who were already in bands to reassess themselves and try something different.

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Born On the River Hurricane Ruth
Hurricane Ruth

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

Hurricane Ruth’s sophomore album, "born on the river," is an eclectic group
of 11 original songs, many of which were inspired by Ruth Lemaster's
hometown, Beardstown, Illinois. The first time I heard this gem it knocked me out. It will always add up to a fantastic performance. She is a force to be
reckoned with.

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Bulletproof Picasso Train
Columbia

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

Three-time grammy winning San Francisco band has released their 7th studio
album, "Bulletproof Picasso," the lead singer, pat when I saw the band perform in their hometown, I was seriously impressed by the writing and singing of Pat Monahan. He writes anthems by making them so real that everyone can say "that's me."

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This Cowboy R.w. Hampton
Cimarron Sounds

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

Music and songwriting have always been personal for Rw Hampton. This kind
of personal was very political. With that he got into trouble here. I’m
just not a red, white and blue kind of patriot like he is. Rw's voice is so
clear. But his message just doesn't work this time.

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Everything Will Be Alright In The End Weezer
Universal Republic

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

Weezer is back with their ninth album and the great Ric Ocasek as producer.
Rivers Cuomo is back as the nerd who made it. "Everything will be
alright in the end" is a manifesto. I’m heavy into rock and roll and they create something that hits the spot. They deserve a huge hand for making the world safe for frayed cardigans and corduroys. Unbeknown to normal people, Weezer has not only kept hanging in there, they have continued to hold a
Rasputin-like grip on its fanatical, ever-increasing cult of suburban punks and grunge kids.

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In The Lonely Hour Sam Smith
Capitol Records

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

Now I don't know how many grammys Sam Smith is gonna get, but it better be
many. He captures a younger man in love with an older temptress, even though
he is proudly gay. He tries desperately to control his hormones with common
sense--and fails. Smith breathes life into songs about obsessive, blind
love. The voice, and what a voice, establishes the mood. The arrangements are sculpted to heighten the tension and to mirror the stories' fevered, anxiety-riddled atmosphere.

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This Is All Yours alt-J
Atlantic

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

The second album by alt-j, the art-rockers of the year, is led by
guitarist/singer Joe Newman. His unhinged aggression is unique. It’s thrilling, sensual, powerful and experimental. On top of that, the generous helpings of live instrumentation complement Joe’s smooth, heartfelt vocals. Alt-j is a glorious listen, gentle and hypnotic. Check them out.

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lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar Robert Plant
Nonesuch

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

The conversational grace of Robert plant's voice is captured here again as
it was with led zeppelin. As the volume is dialed down here he meets blues
singers that he loved with his gravity and maturity. I remember my dad
telling me to listen to the way he told a story. I feel more emotion when Robert plant sings. More than anyone else I ever heard.

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My Everything/ Ariana Grande
MotownUniversal

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

To say that Ariana Grande has legs is a corny, male chauvinist statement, I’m sorry. But she does, and she's not afraid to show them off. Her star
power was seen many moons ago. She was a star on nickelodeon. She's got a
sensitive touch, doesn't oversing, and talks the truth to young women of the
world. It’s easy to hear why she appeals to modern pop and neo-soul singers
alike. She’s equally comfortable with smooth ballads and rolling funk. She
never is one to think about how to sing. Once she starts she's just livin' it. She prefers to just let 'er rip. She's gonna stick around for a long time. She’s got legs, she knows how to use them.

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Standing In The Breach Jackson Browne
Inside Recordings

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

This is the first Jackson Browne album in six years, his fourteenth and his
greatest yet. For those of us who hate capitalism, who hate its
profiteering, imperialism, consumerism, racism and lack of love our need and desire for Jackson Browne is very powerful. He will never give up. Embedded in the warm fragile voice and image are hard truths about wrong turns taken and right moves in our future. His suave sound has never been more influential.  Like he once said: "don't even try to understand/just find a place to make your stand." amen, brother.

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Strut Lenny Kravitz
Kobalt

Author:
John Shelton Ivany

What really makes "strut" work so well is the way it outfits sleek,
barrio-fabulous beats with brass-shouted rhymes and slogans, making for an
action-packed record. I can't stop singing "Dirty White Boots." He's got huge riffs, sweaty grooves and sex on the mind. The cat is fifty years old but he's a rock hero. He was a computer dude in the '80, shedding tears of commitment and regret. He’s as moving and elegant as ever here. Hard rocker and silky soul man is Lenny Kravitz. There’s romantic desperation in his voice. The cat is a rock hero but he's not stuck there.

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