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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Adele, Hot Chelle Rae and more...

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Sunday, November 27, 2011

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"Live at the Royal Albert Hall"



Yes, there's a certain irony to British singer Adele (ne Adkins) releasing a concert souvenir at a time she herself has been silenced by throat surgery to repair damage from a vocal cord hemorrhage. But while she takes a break after the whirlwind success of her first two albums, "19" and "21" -- and her three recent American Music Awards -- this CD/DVD combo is an inspiring and even insightful stock-taking of her heady accomplishments so far and a reminder of just how accomplished Adele is both as a singer and confessional songwriter. Recorded at a triumphant homecoming in London, the 17-song set is not surprisingly dominated by material (11 tacks) from "21" and also goes through a variety of feels and sonic settings over the course of nearly 70 minutes. It opens with a spectral voice-and-piano of the appropriate "Hometown Glory" before launching in to full band attack of the brassy "I'll Be Waiting," and throughout Adele and her versatile band hop from spare, emotive torch tunes such as "Don't You Remember," "Turning Tables" and covers of Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love" and Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" to jaunty acoustic pieces like the Steeldrivers' "If It Hadn't Been For Love" and "My Same." The crew can rock, too, as evidenced by a thumping, aggressive "Rumour Has It" and the buoyant "Right As Rain," while the delicate but determined dynamic build of "Chasing Pavements" is a showstopper. Adele has the crowd eating out of her hand and singing along by the time she winds things up with "Someone Like You" and the soulful "Rolling in the Deep," wrapping up a satisfying stock-taking of her career so far and whetting our appetites for something new, hopefully as soon as possible.


Hot Chelle Rae, "Whatever" (RCA) **

This Nashville quartet couldn't have asked for a better build-up to its sophomore album -- a double-platinum first single ("Tonight Tonight") and a Best New Artist win at the American Music Awards. That insures that "Whatever" will make a bigger splash than 2009's "Lovesick Electric," and it also finds Hot Chelle Rae more honed in on a hooky and almost gimmicky pop sound filled with cheeky lifestyle references and buoyant, singalong choruses. A certain sonic sameness creeps into these 11 tracks, which can't be rescued by guests such as rappers New Boyz ("I Like It Like That") and Bei Maejor ("Radio"). The clubbier "Beautiful Freaks" and the ballad "Why Don't You Love Me" with Demi Lovato break things up a bit, but this is still mostly fare for tweens making the transition from Bieber to bands.

New & Noteworthy:

Baby Bash & Jay Tee, "M.S.U." (40 Ounce): The two Mexican-American rappers from Vallejo, Calif., team for a set whose title acronym stands for go green -- but not of the Spartan variety.

Beggars & Thieves, "We Are the Brokenhearted" (Frontiers): The second album of the year from the New York glam rock quartet.

Dave Clarke, "Fabric 60" (Fabric): Britain's "Baron of Techno" features a wealth of friends, including Detroit's Malik Alston, on this 17-song set of remixes and collaborations.

Jimmy Cliff, "Sacred Fire" (Collective Sounds): The reggae great's EP includes covers of songs by the Clash, Bob Dylan and Rancid as well as his own "Ship is Sailing."

Curren$y and the Jets, "Jet Life: Jet World Order" (Jet Life/Warner Bros.): The seventh studio album by the New Orleans rapper includes his Jet Life posse mates Trademark Da Skydiver and Young Roddy.

Linda Lavin, "Possibilities" (Ghostlight): The actress and singer moves into the recording realm with this emotive 12-song set.

Kylie Minogue, "Aphrodite: Les Folies" (Astralwerks): A CD/DVD or Blu-ray souvenir of the Australian songstress' world tour promoting her latest album, "Aphrodite."

Rashad & Confidence, "Element of Surprise" (Ill Adrenaline): A joint throwdown from a pair of New York's underground rappers.

Royal Hunt, "Show Me How to Live" (Frontiers): The Danish progressive rockers' 11th studio album features the return of American singer D.C. Cooper after a 13-year absence.

Trey Songz, "Inevitable" (Atlantic): The R&B singer's between-albums EP includes the hit "Say Aah" and a collaboration with Drake on "Successful."

Vildhjarta, "masstaden" [cq] (Century Media): The first full-length release from the hard-rocking Swedish septet.

Yes, "In the Present: Live From Lyon" (Frontiers): The prog-rock kingpins' first concert album to feature current singer Benoit David was recorded during 2009 in France.

From the Vaults: Brand New, "Your Favorite Weapon" (Triple Crown); Gorillaz, "The Singles Collection: 2001-2011" (EMI); Smashing Pumpkins, "Gish -- Deluxe Edition," "Siamese Dream -- Deluxe Edition" (both EMI); Richard Thompson, "Strict Tempo" (Omnivore)

New Holiday Albums: Joey McIntyre, "Come Home For Christmas" (iTunes)

Soundtracks: Craig Armstrong, "In Time" (Lakeshore); "Follies (New Broadway Cast Recording)" (P.S. Classics); Alberto Iglesias, "The Skin I Live In" (Lakeshore); Various Artists, "Songs of Anarchy: Music from Sons of Anarchy Seasons 1-4" (Columbia

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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