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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Halestorm, Reba, Taylor Swift, Dwight Yoakam and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Monday, April 13, 2015

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"Into the Wild Life"


Grade: B

Halestorm closes its third album with Lzzy Hale bellowing over a slinky glam rock riff that "I like it heavy" -- like that's a news flash. But what really makes "Into the Wild Life" work as a successor to Halestorm's sophomore set, 2012's Grammy Award-winning "The Strange Case Of...," is that it shows that the eastern Pennsylvania quartet can, in fact, be much more than just heavy. Fans needn't worry; there's plenty of bang here in songs such as the industrial-tinged "Scream," the metallic "Sick Individual," the pounding "Mayhem," the stomping "Gonna Get Mine" and the boogie-flavored, sex-drenched first single "Apocalyptic." But when Halestorm pulls its foot off the pedal, even a bit, it's just as effective, from the ringing melodicism of "I Am the Fire" to the heartfelt, sentimental power balladry of "Dear Daughter," a nod to the support Hale and her brother, drummer Arejay, got from their parents. "What Sober Can't Say" is Hale's "Wrecking Ball" break-up epic -- not to be outdone by the more virulent sentiments "The Reckoning" -- while "Amen" could just as easily be contemporary pop or country. Even "I Like It Heavy" ends with a kind of Appalachian yodel coda that's surely new territory for the group. Some Halestorm faithful may find these musical digressions "Wild" indeed, but they largely work and should propel the group even further up to the rock 'n' roll ladder.

New & Noteworthy:

Randy Bachman, "Heavy Blues" (Linus): The Guess Who/BTO guitarist keeps on rollin' down the highway on his latest set, which sports a female rhythm section and guest appearances by Neil Young, Peter Frampton, Joe Bonamassa, Robert Randolph and, posthumously, Jeff Healey.

Kodaline, "Coming Up For Air" (RCA): The Irish group's sophomore album pushes the pop-rock boundaries of its debut, with help from cutting-edge co-producer Jacknife Lee.

Reba, "Love Somebody" (Nash Icon): The country icon's co-produced all of her first new studio album in five years, including a duet with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles on "Enough."

Taylor Swift, "Taylor Swift Karaoke: 1989" (Big Machine): As if the Swifties don't sing along to these songs enough already, here's a version of the album without her vocals to get in the way. Earplugs for parents not included.

Dwight Yoakam, "Second Hand Heart" (Warner Bros./Reprise): The country singer returns to his original home and gets back to the Bakersfield roots of the early albums he released there.

Also Out: Tim Berne, "You've Been Watching Me" (ECM); Calexico,"Edge of the Sun" (Anti-); Sabrina Carpenter, "Eyes Wide Open" (Hollywood); The Coasters, "Magical Favorites" (Goldenlane); The Compulsions, "Dirty Fun" (Compulsions); Lauren Daigle, "How Can It Be" (Centricity); The Damnwells, "The Damnwells" (Rock Ridge); Dance Gavin Dance, "Instant Gratification" (Rise); Michael Des Barres, "The Key to the Universe" (FOD); Lila Downs, "Balas Y Chocolate" (RCA); The Eels, "Royal Albert Hall" (E Works/Pias); Emil Friis, "Sand In Your Yes" (Southern Imperial); Amy Grant, "Be Still & Know: Hymns & Faith" (Amy Grant); Gavin Harrison, "Cheating the Polygraph" (KScope); Beth Hart, "Better Than Home" (Provogue); JeConte, "Down By the Bayou" (Red Parlor); Kenny Lattimore, "Anatomy of a Love Song" (eOne); Lightning Bolt, "Fantasy Empire" (Thrill Jockey); Little Texas, "Young For a Long Time" (Golden Lane); Charles Lloyd, "Wild Man Dance" (CMG); Local H, "Hey, Killer" (G&P); Lowland Hum, "Lowland Hum" (self-released); Shawn Mendes, "Handwritten" (Island); Jimbo Mahtus, "Kaleidoscopic Blue Healer" (Big Legal Mess); Chris Moore, "Community Service" (CEN/RED EP); The Mowgli's, "Kids In Love" (Republic); NEEDTOBREATHE, "Live From the Woods" (Atlantic); David Phelps, "Freedom" (Spring House); Joel Rafael, "Baladista" (Inside); Arlen Roth, "Slide Guitar Summit" (Aquinnah); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, "Plays Prog Rock Classics" (Purple Pyramid); Xavier Rudd & the United Nations, "Nanna" (Nettwerk); Sax Pack, "Power of 3" (Shanachie); Naadine Shah, "Fast Food" (Apollo/R&S); theSHIFT, "Direction" (self-released); Tony Succar, "Unity: The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson" (Universal Classics); Sworn In, "The Lover/The Devil" (Razor & Tie); Frank Turner, "Third Three Years" (Ingrooves); The von Trapps, "Dancing In Gold" (Heinz EP)

From The Vaults: Tori Amos, "Little Earthquakes (Deluxe Edition)," "Under The Pink (Deluxe Edition)" (Atlantic Catalog Group); Jack Bruce, "Live at the Canterbury Fayre" (The Store For Music); The Replacements, "The Complete Studio Albums 1981-1990" (Rhino); Thor, "Unchained" (Deadline Music); Hank Williams III, "Take As Needed For Pain" (Curb)

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