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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: John Rich, Papa Roach and more...

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Monday, March 23, 2009

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John Rich, “Son of a Preacher Man” (Warner Bros. Nasvhille) ***

The hat-wearing half of Big & Rich has certainly endeared himself to this region with “Shuttin’ Detroit Down,” the populist protest song that kicks off his second solo album and brings a welcome — and rare — bit of support for the Motor City from south of the Mason-Dixon line. So there’s a favorable predisposition, but when times are as tight as he sings about in that song it’s fair to ask if “Son of a Preacher Man’s” other 10 songs also deliver enough to merit buying it. They do indeed, and that shouldn’t be a surprise. Rich has been a savvy writer, performer and producer since his stint in Lonestar, and he’s certainly shown a big imagination for what country music can be with Big & Rich and its attendant Muzik Mafia network. On his own, however, he’s relatively straightforward, though “... Preacher Man” reaches far and wide in the country universe without necessarily pushing the traditional parameters too far. Writing mostly with longtime collaborator Vicky McGhee, Rich and his studio crew kick up a rockin’ head of steam on tracks such as “Trucker Man,” “Turn a Country Boy On” and the cheeky “Everybody Wants to Be Me.” Elsewhere, Rich ruminates about being in love (”I Never Thought You’d Ask”), out of love (“Another You”) and in romantic purgatory (“I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love”). He draws inspiration from his World War II-era grandfather for “The Good Lord and the Man” and his father for the album’s title track, while “Why Does Somebody Always Have to Die” takes on a bit of social commentary and the album-closing “Drive Myself to Drink” is a finger-snapping, big-band swing surprise with a sense of humor that hearkens closer to Big & Rich. We certainly don’t want Rich to stray too far, or too long, from his entertaining work with Big Kenny, but “Preacher Man,” with or without its hands up for Detroit, is a worthwhile side-step.


Papa Roach, “Metamorphosis” (DGC/Interscope): **1/2

It’s been nearly a decade since “Last Resort” and the triple-platinum “Infest” album made Papa Roach one of raprock’s standard bearers. To its credit, the Sacramento quartet never stayed put, refining and developing its sound even though the same commercial fortunes didn’t follow. “Metamorphosis” is the most polished and wide-reaching of the group’s six releases, taking a decidedly mainstream-accessible direction on tracks such as the first single, “Lifeline,” “March Out of Darkness” and “State of Emergency.” Frontman Jacoby Shaddix still vents “a head full of wreckage” on more metallic numbers such as “Change or Die,” “Live This Down” and “Into the Light,” but “Metamorphosis” is intended for — and largely achieves — a more timeless kind of terrain.

New & Noteworthy

Basia, “It’s That Girl Again” (Koch): The Polish

chanteuse records as a solo artist for the first time in 15 years, following the 2004 return of her group Matt Bianco.

Blue October, “Approaching Normal” (Universal): The Austin rockers teamed with legendary producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Dave Matthews Band) on their

fifth studio set — preceded by the buzz-worthy first single “Dirt Room.”

Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles, “The Stars are Out” (Sugar Hill): The rocking Bostonian and her

band stock their latest album with five originals — one cowritten with Lemonheads’ Evan Dando — and five covers,

including Smokey Robinson’s “Being With You.”

Eric Church, “Carolina” (Capitol Nashville): The

North Carolina-born country singer co-wrote all 10 songs on his sophomore effort.

The Decemberists, “The Hazards of Love” (Capitol):

The Portland quintet delivers another typically ambitious,

genre-hopping collection for its fifth full-length album.

Jim Jones, “Pray IV Reign” (Columbia): The Harlem rapper switches labels for his fourth album and gets

help from Ludacris, Juelz Santana, NOE and others.

Sean Jones, “The Search Within” (Mack Avenue): The jazz trumpeter, bandleader and educator welcomes a variety of guests, including harmonica ace Gregoire Maret and singer Carolyn Perteete, on his fifth album.

KMFDM, “Blitz!” (Metropolis): The industrial

dance-rock crew from Hamburg

covers Human League’s “Being

Boiled” on its 17th album.

Krayzie Bone, “The Fixtape Vol. 2: Just One Mo’ Hit” (RBC): A fourth mixtapestyled release from the Bone

Thugs-n-Harmony member.

Ida Maria, “Fortress Round My Heart” (Mercury/ Fontana): The Norwegian

sensation brings her act to

these shores after scoring with

her first single, “I Like You

So Much Better When You’re


Wynton Marsalis, “He and She” (Blue Note): The

trumpeter and composer, who’s

graduated from young lion to

elder statesman status, focuses

on human relationships for the

songs on his latest album.

Mastodon, “Crack the Skye” (Reprise): The intellectual Atlanta hard rockers made

their fourth album at home

with highly regarded producer

Brendan O’Brien.

Martina McBride, “Shine” (RCA): The country singer hooks up with producer Dann Huff after producing her last album, 2007`s “Waking Up Laughing,” herself.

Original Cast Recording, “Shrek the Musical” (Decca Broadway): Songs from the Broadway adaptation of the DreamWorks animated film hit, composed by award winners David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori.

Royksopp, “Junior” (Astralwerks): The third studio album from the Norwegian duo features guest vocals from Swedish hitmaker Robyn, among others.

Soundtrack, “Hannah Montana: The Movie” (Disney): The film adaptation of the Miley Cyrus-starring Disney Channel show features new songs by the star as both herself and as Hannah, a duet with her dad Billy Ray Cyrus and contributions by pal Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts. Take that!, JoBros...

Maria Taylor, “Ladyluck” (Nettwerk): The singer-songwriter’s third solo album includes collaborations with R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, Bright Eyes’ Nate Walcott, Midlake’s Mckenzie Smith and Andy LeMaster of Now It’s Overhead.

Ian Tyson, “Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Songs” (Stony Plain):

The folk hero (with Ian & Sylvia) turned country-western singer didn’t let either divorce and permanent vocal damage deter him from making his 14th solo album.

Various Artists, “Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm” (Vanguard): The late San Antonio musician gets his due, and proof that he was about much more than the Sir Douglas Quintet hit “She’s About a Mover,” on this all-star salute from pals Los Lobos, Alejandro Escovedo, Dave Alvin, Jimmie Vaughan and Texas Tornados bandmate

Flaco Jimenez.

Various Artists: The Vines, “Melodia” (Ivy League): The fourth album

from outspoken frontman

Craig Nicholls and his rocking,

Australian-based cohorts.

Yanni, “Yanni Voices” (Disney Pearl): After decades of instrumental excursions, Yanni collaborates with Academy Award-winner Ric Wake to incorporate four young singers into his music.

From the Vaults:

Shooter Jennings, “Bad Magick: The Best of Shooter Jennings & the 357’s” (Universal Records South); Pearl Jam, “Ten (Deluxe Edition)” (Epic Legacy); Radiohead, “Pablo Honey: Collectors Edition” (Capitol/ EMI); Radiohead, “The Bends: Collectors Edition” (Capitol/EMI); Radiohead, “OK Computer: Collectors Edition” (Capitol/EMI); AR Rahman, “The Best of AR Rhaman: Music & Magic From the Composer of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ “(Legacy)

New Music DVDs: Little Richard, “Live at the Toronto Peace Festival 1969” (Shout! Factory); Mike Stern, “New Morning: The Paris Concert” (Heads Up)

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