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Wednesday, May 14, 2008


A Week of Reviewing Nearly Everything (Part Two)

Continuing our week of new CDs and DVDs, here's the good, the bad, and the Bedingfield:

Natasha Bedingfield, Pocketful of Sunshine (site)
More middle-of-the-road pop from Britain's muted answer to Nelly Furtado. There's not one startling moment of surprise on this disc...it seems designed solely to appeal to those who loved her debut single, "Unwritten," a few years back. (I was not a fan.) There's a halfhearted attempt at Timbaland-lite currency on some tracks ("Pocketful of Sunshine"), faux-Mary J. Blige stylings on others ("Angel). But when, on the midtempo "Happy", she sings "it all seems meaningless," you know exactly how she feels.

Original Television Cast Recording, Evening Primrose (site)
Stephen Sondheim fans, take note: for a very limited time and in a very limited quantity, the long-desired recording of Evening Primrose -- a 1966 television musical on the ABC Stage 67 series, starring Anthony Perkins (Psycho) and Charmain Carr and broadcast only once -- has been released on CD. And what a delight it is; Primrose is a treasure trove for Sondheimanics, recorded and mastered with love and exquisite attention to detail. The awe-generating discovery is Perkins, who reveals himself to have a marvelous voice and a nuanced understanding of the material. Standout tracks include "If You Can Find Me, I'm Here" and "Take Me To The World," both of which have been recorded by other artists but never with such care and complexity. Maybe the best musical of 2008 is actually from 1966.

Pacifika, Asunción (site)
Born of a Peruvian-born singer and a Canadian guitarist and bassist, Pacifika is nearly overflowing with influences; in just the first track, "Sol," your can hear their palpable affection for flamenco and electronica, jazz and folk, pop and Latin rhythms. As you might guess about a musical stew like that, it's pretty much a mess. At best, Asuncion sounds like a Brazilian combo writing traveling music ("Libertad"); at worst, it's New Age easy listening. Lacking an authentic sound to call its own, this trio should take a step back, reassess, and pick a genre that can more effectively support their obvious musical chops.

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Blogger will g said...

Evening Primrose has been available on a Nonesuch recording from 2001, paired with Nathan Lane's first one of The Frogs. But to be able to hear the original with Perkins (which I actually remember seeing on TV as a toddler!) is an unexpected gift.

5/14/08, 1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's kind of difficult to compare Natasha to Nelly. Nelly had a great debut album and pretty much flubbed the second offering after she took several years off to make babies. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, she comes back as some skanky bad-ass hip hop artists and lands herself back on top. In short, she sold her art out for the almighty buck. That's not to say she didn't have at least one noteworthy tune off her album "Loose", as "Say It Right" was a beautiful song. So now, you're comparing these two artists and are casually dismissive of Ms. Bedingfield’s talent. Just for the record, "Unwritten" her debut album generated two major international hits "These Words" a fun hip-hopish love song and "Unwritten" an uplifting song about the possibilities and where life might take her. Her latest offering has already generated a major smash in "Love Like This" and "Pocket Full Of Sunshine" is well on its way. The latter is actually a song about empowerment and not allowing someone to take your joy away from you. Granted, all of her music is light and bouncy, but isn't that the fun of it? Unlike the label generated slag of Nelly (Maneater and Promiscuous) Natasha writes her own material without being forced into something she's not. Just my two cents.

5/14/08, 4:55 AM  
Blogger ModFab said...

WILL: the Nonesuch recording is missing a lot of the material, especially instrumental tracks, which are on the new disc.

KEITH: Wow, I guess you're a Natasha lover, huh? I just found both of her CDs to be vapid, empty, calculated enterprises. I don't see the authenticity or artistic merit that you do, I guess.

5/14/08, 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't read too much into it..as I said in my earlier statement "Granted, all of her music is light and bouncy, but isn't that the fun of it?" I guess my point is that I try to separate the differences in artistic merit. Some things are just plain stupid fun while others (such as Maneater and Promiscuous off of Nelly's last album) are calculated and insipid. Actually, isn't that the very same thing you and others have criticized Madonna for on her Timberlake duet on 4 Minutes? Just a thought.

5/14/08, 11:09 AM  

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