Mitchell: A few albums ‘for fans only’

Dion offers some interesting tracks that change the channel.

Celine Dion: Loved Me Back To Life (Columbia)

This is Celine Dion’s first English language studio album in six years and, in spite of the gap, Dion proves as popular as ever topping the charts in Canada and No. 2 in the USA just behind the new Eminem release.

Dion remains an interpreter of songs where she writes none of the material on this lengthy hour-long, 15-track CD (as in the Deluxe Edition that has two extra songs).

Things start out nicely with Dion’s latest hit and title track Loved Me Back To Life which is an upbeat song about rebirth, but the rest of this album tends to wallow in melodramatic overkill. Songs like Water And A Flame and Didn’t Know Love and Thank You plumb the depths of despair with phrases like “now you’re gone,” “my scars, your lies,” and “it cut me deep” that gets a bit wearisome.

However; there are some interesting tracks that change the channel. Dion has joined up with contemporary soulster Ne-Yo for a solid R&B ballad titled Incredible, and with Stevie Wonder for a delightful take of his mid-’80s hit Overjoyed from his In Square Circle.

Meanwhile; it seems that Dion has been listening to Shakira records as might be heard on Somebody Loves Somebody, while Ertha Kitt phrasings come to mind on the guitar-driven pop rock of Save Your Soul.

The most interesting song is a cover of Janis Ian’s early ’70s hit At Seventeen that Ian indeed wrote at age 17. The song is a lamentation on prejudice and a then forbidden interracial relationship, whereas later Ian came out of the closet and described the song as her frustrations as a lesbian.

This is an all-ballad album except for the very final track, Unfinished Songs by Diane Warren, which is uptempo and a paint by number carpe diem re: “make the time to make each moment count.”

The Deluxe Edition comes with two extra tracks, a cardboard outer slip case and a few panels of extra photos of the seemingly ageless Dion.

C+

 

Avril Lavigne:

(EpicRecords)

Last week Avril Lavigne’s new studio album entered the Billboard charts at No. 5, selling a fraction of the units shifted by front runner Eminem (741,000 to 44K).

Unlike her last album, Goodbye Lullaby where Lavigne tried her hand at serious adult songcraft, this new self-titled album is a return to the party and mall-brat territory of Sk8er Boi. Unfortunately Lavigne is no longer the teen brat of her debut when she wrote those early songs. She is closing in on 30 and married (her second) to leather-lunged post grunge rocker Chad Kroeger.

Some of these songs are tragically jejune, almost certainly dishonest and well below Lavigne’s chronological years.

Furthermore, Lavigne has a charitable foundation for disabled kids re: R.O.C.K.S: Respect, Opportunity, Choices (!!), Knowledge, Strength and I wonder how she squares this up with the song titled (oddly enough) 17 where the protagonist gets drunk, loses her virginity, runs red lights and “acts stupid for fun.”

The truth is, the aging adult Avril doesn’t sell as well as when she is in irresponsible party brat persona and her adult album Goodbye Lullaby only sold so-so.

This self-titled CD starts with Rock N Roll—a pop song about the notion of rock and roll while including none of it. Other titles such as Here’s To Never Growing Up, Bitchin’ Summer, and the mechanically sexual Give You What You Like reveals the mindset where Lavigne hopes she can sell some records.

The lowest of the lows is the rough sex S&M with Marilyn Manson on the creepy Bad Girl.

I never accepted Lavigne as much of a punk rocker as they often have a left of centre integrity—she hopes to remain a misguided mall-brat but is starting to look like an aged predator in the food court.

D


Il Divo: The Greatest Songs From The World’s Favourite Musicals (SYCO)

Il Divo are a very productive foursome. This new release has also hit the top 10. They remain so prolific because they do mostly cover songs and while they have in the past been labelled as pop-era, there is now no sense at all of any operatic pretence. Hence this disc of all show tunes from Broadway musicals.

Four of the 12 tracks are from Andrew Lloyd Weber while the lads also cover West Side Story (Tonight), Rogers and Hammerstein (Some Enchanted Evening) and Elton John (Can You Feel The Love Tonight).

Guests include Nicole Scherzinger, Heather Headley, Kirstin Chenoweth and Michael Ball. But Barbra Streisand isn’t listed on the front—they probably didn’t get the legal clearances beforegoing to printed, but Babs is the biggest star here on The Music Of The Night.

For fans only.

C

 

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