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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Adele, Enya, Rush, Frank Sinatra and more..

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2015

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Grade: A

Say hello to the album that will make "1989" seem like so, well, one year ago. There have been plenty of pop divas and heart-wringing troubadours (that's you, Sam Smith) during the four years since Adele's Grammy-gobbling "21," but in one 11-song swoop (14 if you go to Target) the British singer makes all of them sound like placeholders in comparison. Adele and her multi-million dollar crew of cohorts (Ryan Tedder, Max Martin, Shellback, Paul Epworth, Greg Kurstin, Bruno Mars and more) do exactly what they needed to for this long-awaited release -- set up songs that let Adele sing and then get out of the way. Most of "25" is thoughtfully, and correctly, austere, letting Adele emote but never over-sing the rich melodies of "Hello," "I Miss You," "Love in the Dark" and the aching "Remedy." She's a happier camper than she was on "21," and it shows throughout "25;" even the drearier reflections on lost love, including the apprehensive Mars collaboration "All I Ask," are fortified with stoic resolve, while uptempo tracks such as "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)," Danger Mouse's gospel-flavored "River Lea" and the anthemic album-closer "Sweetest Devotion" pack a cathartic buoyancy. It's well worth the proverbial wait and soundly lives up to the pre-release hype that's been going on since "25's" release was announced in October.

New & Noteworthy:

Big K.R.I.T., "All My Life" (RBC): The Mississippi rapper dips into his vaults for unreleased material to appease fans while he continues working on his third studio album.

Enya, "Dark Sky Island" (WMG): The Irish songstress based her eight studio album on French island of Sark as well as the poetry of Roma Ryan.

The Grateful Dead, "The Best of Fare Thee Well," "Fare Thee Well" (Dead.net/Rhino): The Dead's 50th anniversary shows in Chicago surface for mass consumption in a two-disc highlights package, complete versions of each of the three shows and a completist's box set. A long, strange trip any way you cut it.

Rush "R40 Live" (Zoe/Rounder): The beloved Canadian trio's latest -- and possibly last -- tour is captured on CD and video from two homecoming shows in Toronto. Frank Sinatra, "A Voice on Air (1935-1955)" (Columbia/Legacy), "Sinatra: All or Nothing at All" (Eagle Rock): The Sinatra centennial celebration continues with a lavish four-disc box set of unreleased radio performances and a home video documentary brimming with priceless footage and inteviews with the man himself.

Leslie West, "Soundcheck" (Provogue): The Mountain man's latest solo album features guest appearances by Queen's Brian May, Peter Frampton, Bonnie Bramlett and an archival live recording with the late Jack Bruce.

Also Out: Terry Adams, "Talk Thelonious" (Clang!); Darren Barrett, "Trumpet Vibes" (dB Studios); Cage The Elephant, "I`m Pretty" (RCA); Fourplay, "Silver" (Heads Up); Freddie Gibbs, "Shadow of a Doubt" (E$GN); Jonny Greenwood, Shye Ben Tzur and Rajasthan Express, "Junun" (Nonesuch); Gregorian, "Masters of Chant X: The Final Chapter" (earMUSIC); Jadakiss, "Top 5 Dead or Alive" (Ruff Ryders/IDJ); Ottmar Liebert, "Waiting in Swan" (Spiral Subwave); Candice Knight, "Starlight Starbright" (Soulfood); Krayzie Bone, "Chasing the Devil" (RBC); Shawn Mendes, "Handwritten (Revisited)" (Island); Punch Brothers, "The Wireless" (Nonesuch); Sonny Sharrock, "Ask the Ages" (M.O.D. Technologies); Solution 45, "NIghtmares in the Waking State -- Part I" (AFM); Tech N9ne, "Strangeulation Vol. II" (Strange Music); Tinariwen, "Live in Paris" (Anti-); Roger Waters, "the Wall" (Columbia/Legacy); The Who, "Live in Hyde Park" (Eagle Rock)

From The Vaults: Anthrax, "Spreading the Disease" (Island); Tracy Chapman, "Greatest Hits (Elektra/Rhino); John Coltrane, "A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters" (Verve); Guided By Voices, "Suitcase 4: Captain Kangaroo Won The War" (GBV); Jo Jo Gunne, "Live 1971 and 1973" (Rockbeat); Arthur Lee & Love, "Coming Thru To you: The Live Recordings 1970-2004" (Rockbeat); Lee Michaels, "The Complete A&M Album Collection" and "Heighty Hi: The Best Of..." (Manifesto); Art Pepper, "Live at Fat Tuesday's" (Elemental Music); Queen, "A Night at the Odeon" (Hollywood); The Rolling Stones, "From the Vault -- Live in Leeds 1982" (Eagle Rock); Carly Simon, "Songs From the Trees: A Musical Memoir Collection)" (Elektra); Spock's Beard, "The First Twenty Years" (Metal Blade); The Velvet Underground, "The Matrix Tapes" (Polydor); Weather Report, "The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-1981" (Legacy); Frank Zappa, "200 Motels -- The Suites" (Zappa)

Soundtracks: "Carol" (Varese Sarabande); "Clinton The Musical" (Ghostlight); "Empire: Original Soundtrack, Season 2 Volume 1" (Columbia); "The Good Dinosaur" (Walt Disney); "Halo 5: Guardians Original Soundtrack" (Microsoft/343; "Lady Be Good" (Ghostlight); "Victor Frankenstein" (La-La Land);

New Holiday Albums: Caleb Collins, "Christmas" (Capital Entertainment); The Osmonds, "Merry Christmas" (Osmond Entertainment); St.Paul's Cathedral Choir and Edward Benjamin Britten, "Christmas With St. Paul's Cathedral Choir" (Decca); Smoke Fairies, "Wild Winter" (Full Time Hobby)

New Music DVDs: Blue October, "Things We Do at NIght (Live From Texas)" (MRI); Queen, "A Night at the Odeon" (Eagle Rock); The Who, "Live in Hyde Park" (Eagle Rock)

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