Thursday, 19 July 2018 11:38 GMT

Kelly Clarkson new album 'fails' to woo

(MENAFN - Arab Times) NEW YORK March 10 (Agencies): Kelly Clarkson 'Piece By Piece' (RCA 19)

As one of the most successful 'American Idol' winners Kelly Clarkson can hold her head up high she's still in the game after 13 years. That doesn't mean her new album 'Piece By Piece' gets any awards for creativity it sounds like a Clarkson album they forgot to release a decade ago.

This 13-track record writes a check its ambition can't cash. Sadly Clarkson's strong voice is misused on songs so generic even she probably forgot she's singing on them.

Case in point: The first single 'Heartbeat Song' doesn't get engaging just by making it high tempo a modern allegro agitato. The Sia-penned 'Invincible' on the other hand sounds both catchier and more textured while 'Piece By Piece' is a color-by-numbers pop march. It gets better here and there with dance floor bait 'Take You High' or the weirdly sounding-like-something-else-from-the-'80s 'Dance With Me.'

The one collaboration on the album the John Legend-assisted 'Run Run Run' is a beautiful ballad that adds feeling and drama to an album otherwise in a hurry to get to the finish line.

Madonna 'Rebel Heart' (Boy Toy/Live Nation/Interscope)

Madonna's 13th studio album 'Rebel Heart' beats with romance and rebellion. At 19 tracks it's an overstuffed triptych through the iconic performer's life careening between uplifting dance tracks like the percolating 'Living for Love' her 44th No. 1 on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart and corrosively bitter tunes such as the Avicii-produced 'HeartBreakCity.'

Songs such as the largely acoustic 'Devil Pray' which will stylistically remind many of 'Don't Tell Me'; the achingly vulnerable 'Joan of Arc'; and the deceptively double entendre-filled lilting 'Body Shop' course with vitality and showcase some of Madonna's best singing in years.


While the majority of the material falls solidly in the positive some of the tunes undoubtedly meant to sound fierce and liberating just feel tired like the electro-clash braggadocio of 'I'm Madonna' featuring Nicki Minaj and the Kanye West-produced 'Water.'

In perhaps her most complex album Madonna seems determined to plant a flag for her 30-plus year career even giving a crash course in Madonna-ology on the self-referential 'Veni Vidi Vici' featuring Nas during which she playfully incorporate phrases and titles from past hits. At its best 'Rebel Heart' pulsates with a vibrancy that reveals both the sour and the sweet in Madonna's extremely complicated life and leaves no doubt that she still has a lot more to share.

Luke Bryan 'Spring Break . Checkin' Out' (Capitol Nashville)

Luke Bryan opens his annual spring-break album with 'My Ol' Bronco' a song about an aging vehicle that still gets the job done. The Bronco could be a metaphor for Bryan himself both were born in the 1970s and both have outgrown an affinity for kicking up sand at musical beach parties.

'Checkin' Out' is Bryan's seventh spring-break collection in as many years; that's in addition to four full-length albums since 2007. The 38-year-old CMA Entertainer of the Year understandably feels ready to focus on something deeper than beach-party soundtracks.

His maturity shows in the songs too. He still celebrates the lighthearted joys mixing sand sun and surf as on the funk-dance rhythms of 'Good Lookin' Girl' and 'Like We Ain't Ever' Ai the latter among the six tunes recycled from Bryan's 2014 release 'Spring Break 6.' This time he sneaks in youthful drama on 'Games' and gets sentimental on 'Spring Breakdown.'

Furthermore Bryan's musical collaborators the father-son production team Jeff and Jody Stephens reveal some new sonic tricks in the arrangements. Altogether Bryan makes the best of his last spring vacation and shows that he is poised to add more depth and texture to his music in the future.

Months after rock legends Pink Floyd put out a final album guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour is planning a solo album and shows at Roman-era theaters.

Gilmour announced on his website that he would release the album the title and exact date of which he did not reveal to coincide with a tour of 'some of the world's most beautiful cities and venues.'

The eight-concert tour will start at the two-millennia-old Pula Arena in Croatia on Sept 12 and also stop at Roman-era theaters in Orange France and Verona Italy.

The Cambridge England-born artist will also perform in Germany and London with three dates at the Royal Albert Hall.

The solo album will be the fourth by Gilmour who turns 69 on Friday. His last solo album 'On an Island' reflected Pink Floyd's psychedelic style with a greater emphasis on instrumental components and orchestration.

The album inspired in part by Gilmour's time on the Greek island of Kastellorizo featured contributions by the Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner as well as folk rockers David Crosby and Graham Nash.


Pink Floyd with its dark landscapes and meditations of personal isolation became one of rock's most influential acts through albums such as 'Dark Side of the Moon' and 'The Wall.'

Gilmour was a driving force behind Pink Floyd along with Roger Waters who parted with the band amid acrimony in 1985 and has pursued a solo career and original lead singer Syd Barrett who left in 1969 as he struggled with mental illness.

Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason in November released 'The Endless River' which the duo said would be Pink Floyd's final album and closed with a reflection on getting older.

Belgian music sensation Stromae whose career has quickly grown internationally has announced a tour of North America leading up to a mega-gig at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Stromae who will play next month's Coachella festival in California had previously announced his Oct 1 appearance at the coveted New York venue whose headliners are generally seen as having reached a level of stardom.

The 'Alors On Danse' singer on Monday unveiled nine additional dates the weeks before the performance Miami Atlanta Washington Philadelphia Boston Minneapolis Detroit Toronto and Montreal.

While most of the shows will be at venues much smaller than 18200-capacity Madison Square Garden his last stop before New York will be at the 21273-capacity Centre Bell arena in Montreal.

Stromae has attracted a growing international audience after phenomenal success in the French-speaking world with his album 'Racine Caree' the top-seller in France in 2013 and again in 2014.

Stromae who turns 30 on Thursday has won over diverse crowds with his danceable yet intelligent tracks that notably have touched on his absent father who was killed in the Rwandan genocide.

A debut at Carnegie Hall meant to showcase a young composer was abruptly canceled after management realized it featured a snippet of a Nazi German anthem. The New York Youth Symphony was set to premiere the orchestral work on Sunday at the prestigious concert hall but the orchestra's management removed it saying that such an explosive musical reference required a longer conversation.

No one has suggested any Nazi sympathy by composer Jonas Tarm a 21-year-old Estonian American who intended for the work to deplore war including recent bloodshed in Ukraine.

But the controversy raised a broader question how explicitly do artists need to state that allusions to history's darkest chapters are meant to condemn rather than condone?

The New York Youth Symphony which recognizes performers and composers under age 22 said Tarm only informed the management last week that his piece included 45 seconds of 'Horst-Wessel-Lied' one of the Nazis' main anthems which is banned in modern Germany and Austria.

Kelly Clarkson new album 'fails' to woo

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