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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Demi Lovato, "Hamilton," OMI, Pentatonix and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Thursday, October 15, 2015

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Demi Lovato



Grade: B-

Demi Lovato will probably be the first to acknowledge that her four previous albums weren’t exactly, well, “Confident” — polished, perhaps, but not exactly brimming with the swagger we usually associate with our pop divas. On “Confident,” however, she leads with attitude, from the revealing, “This ain’t ‘Camp Rock’” cover shot to declarations that “I used to hold my freak back now I’m letting go ... B---- I run the show.” This may be Lovato’s coming out, and coming into her own, but “Confident” also comes into a heavily populated world of Kellys, Britneys, Christinas, Selenas, Arianas, et al, and doesn’t really separate itself from the pack. Lovato certainly sounds more, well, confident than she ever has before, tucking into bombastic arrangements by uber hitmakers such as Max Martin (the title track, “Cool For the Summer”) and Ryan Tedder and Stargate (“Wildfire”) with gusto and holding her own alongside rappers such as Iggy Azalea (“Kingdom Come”) and Sirah (“Waitin’ For You”). The closing “Father,” meanwhile, is a poignant, gospel-flavored paean cut unsparingly from Lovato’s own life. Like fellow pop divas Miley Cyrus and Gomez, whose latest album came out last week, Lovato has determinedly put her Disney days behind her, but is still on the path toward finding a sound that distinguishes her from her compatriots.

New & Noteworthy:

Borns, “Dopamine” (Interscope): The alt.pop singer-songwriter from Grand Haven, Mich., comes with is first full-length album after releasing the buzz-making “Candy” EP earlier this year.

Coheed and Cambria, “The Color Before the Sun” (300 Entertainment): The progressive hard rock troupe takes a break from “The Armory Wars” series with the first nonconceptual album of its 13-year recording career.

“Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)” (Atlantic): The award-winning hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton (really) is the hottest ticket on Broadway. And the music is a big part of the reason why.

OMI, “Me 4 U” (Ultra/Oufah/Columbia): The Jamaican singer delivers his debut album in the wake of the lengthy No. 1 run for his hit “Cheerleader.”

Pentatonix, “Pentatonix” (RCA): The a capella group’s fourth album features only original material written by the five band members, with Jason Derulo helping out on “If I Ever Fall in Love.”

Stryper, “Fallen” (Frontier): The Christian headbangers continue to spread The Word, this time on arguably their heaviest album to date.

Also Out: Edward David Anderson, “Lower Alabama: The Loxley Sessions” (Royal Potato Family); Olga Bell, “Incitation” (One Little Indian); Peter Buck, “Warzone Earth” (Little Axe); Joe Budden, “All Love Lost” (Mood Muzik/eOne); Sam Butler, “Raise Your Hands!” (Severn); Tommy Castro and the Painkillers, “Method to My Madness” (Alligator); Circle II Circle, “Reign of Darkness” (earMusic); The Cringe, “Blind Spot” (Listen); Melissa Errico, “What About Today? Live at 54 Below” (Broadway); Jeffrey Foucault, “Salt As Wolves” (Blueblade); Grave, “Out of Respect For the Dead” (Century Media); Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs, “Coulda Shoulda Woulda” (Transdreamer); The Heirs, “Ecliptic” (Capitol); Nikki Hill, “Heavy Hearts Hard Fists” (Deep Fryed); Joel Hoekstra, “Dying To Live” (Frontiers); The Innocence Mission “Hello I Feel the Same” (Korda); Jamie Lawson, “Jamie Lawson” (New Elektra); Alec Lytle & Them Rounders, “Ours” (Four Acre); Machine Gun Kelly, “General Admission” (Bad Boy/Interscope); Neon India, “Vega Intl. Night School” (Mom & Pop); Raury, “All We Need” (LVRN/Columbia); Josh Ritter, “Sermon on the Rocks” (Pytheas/Thirty Tigers); Satan, “Atom By Atom” (Listenable); Son Little, “Son Little” (Anti-); String Cheese Incident, “Rhythm of the Road: Volume 2, Live in Las Vegas” (SCI Fidelity); Supersuckers, “Holdin’ The Bag” (Acetate); Dudley Taft, “Skin & Bones” (American Blues Artist Group); Ugly Kid Joe, “Uglier Than They Used Ta Be” (Metalville); Chris Walla, “Tape Loops” (Trans); With The Dead, “With The Dead” (Rise Above).

From The Vaults: Allman Brothers Band, “Hollywood Bowl 1972” (Smokin’); Jack’s Mannequin, “Everything In Transit (10th Anniversary Edition)” (Rhino/Warner Bros.); King Crimson, “Thrak — 20th Anniversary Edition” (DGM); Joni Mitchell, “A Woman in the East” (All Access); Stevie Ray Vaughan, “Bumbershoot Arts Festival 1985” (Go Faster).

Soundtracks: “At Long Last Love: Original Soundtrack” (Varese Sarabande); “Bridge of Spies” (Hollywood).

Holiday Albums: India.Arie, “Christmas With Friends” (Motown); Danny Gokey, “Christmas Is Here” (BMG); David Benoit Trio featuring Jane Monheit, “Believe” (Concord); Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra, “Keep Christmas with You” (Shadow Mountain); LeAnn Rimes, “Today is Christmas” (Kobalt); Brian Setzer, “Rockin’ Rudolph” (Surfdog).

New Music DVDs: Rage Against the Machine, “Live at Finsbury Park” (Eagle Rock).

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