Lady Antebellum: Own The Night (Capitol)
On their new album cover the band members of Lady Antebellum look like they are at the very tail end of an all-night fancy party. The guys have on semi-formal wear and singer Hillary Scott looks as if she still has on her red carpet designer dress and somehow in the early morning they find themselves on a Fellini dolce vita beach.
The group is probably referencing their big Grammy night where they won five of six categories they were nominated for and it was indeed a night that they owned.
This brings us to their third release and probably their most difficult album as expectations are now so elevated. This disc made its debut at No. 1 on national charts meaning big time crossover from country, but then Own The Night really isn’t a country album as much as it is an adult-oriented pop album. There are occasional rustic stringed instruments such as fiddle, pedal steel and mandolin as well as a sprinkling of accordion but these are mostly seen in the song credits more so than in the final audio mix but I don’t think committed fans are going to care where this music gets pigeonholed.
Own The Night isn’t nearly as strong as Need You Now and the ubiquitous title track that radio of all formats played to death. But it is a solid album with a dozen songs for fans to sink their teeth into.
It is a certainty that the first three songs here will be big hits—you can tell by the label’s add-on sticker—so look for the mid-tempo We Owned The Night and the soft rock of Dancing Away With My Heart to become future hits.
For some unexpected variety, check out the orchestral country pop against the more breezy, light-hearted R&B country of Singing Me Home which I think is the best track on the album.
New York singer/songwriter Gavin DeGraw more or less solidifies his standing as a better than average blue-eyed soulster with his fourth album. This may sound like damning with feint praise but DeGraw is in a wildly over-populated musical genre; however, his songs seem to stand out on radio even if he has yet to record anything as immediate as his first success, I Don’t Wanna Be, from five years ago.
For the first time DeGraw has co-written with a few other notable writers, especially Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic who shares credits for DeGraw’s newest hit, Not Over You, that has predictable lyric snippets such as: “yer beautiful” and “turn on the radio.”
Other than this, DeGraw offers sturdy if not spectacular original songs where he is not trying to re-invent the wheel in the blue-eyed soul realm.
At a mere 10 tracks, the disc is somewhat short but fans will not be disappointed.
Spin Doctors: Pocket Full Of Kryptonite (Epic)
The subtitle of this two-CD set re-issue is The Anniversary Edition as it was 20 years ago that the New York rock band recorded this disc that sold an astonishing 10 million copies worldwide.
Pocket Full Of Kryptonite, despite its title, was an album worthy of Superman with its five hits highlighted by Jimmy Olsen’s Blues and the band’s signature song, Two Princes.
This was a magical album for Spin Doctors who never released another disc that came close to matching the strong songs of their debut and in fact the group’s four follow up releases were very mediocre.
The band was a bare-boned rock trio with jam band ambitions but their songs translated well to pop radio. The real gems here for committed fans are on the second disc of 16 tunes that features demos that are not that much different from the studio offerings as well as a couple of live tracks.
In fact, to my ears the demo of one of the five hits, How Could You Want Him (When You Could Have Me?), sounds better in the studio DYI workup.
Paul Rodgers & Friends: Live At Montreux 1994 (Eagle)
Younger rock music fans probably know Paul Rodgers from his recent mega arena tours filling in for Freddie Mercury fronting Queen.
But Rodgers has had a career equal (some might say greater) to Queen with superstar groups like Free, their signature song being All Right Now from the early ’70s when Rodgers and Free were all still in their teens, and Bad Company who were huge in their heydays.
As a result Rodgers can draw on a lot of ‘friends’ when he wants to and here he is joined by ace guitarists such as Brian May, Neal Schon and Luther Allison as well as other notables such as Jason Bonham and Eddie Kirkland.
Rodgers hammers his way through evergreens as mentioned above as well as smashes such as Wishing Well, Little Bit Of Love and Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love the latter two from his days in Bad Company.
The real treats here are Rodgers’ solid covers of gems like Crossroads, Hoochie Coochie Man, I’m Ready, but sometimes the storming guitar solos tend to bury the songs.
Still, Paul Rodgers proves once again why he is considered one of the best front men in all British rock.