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CD Reviews:
The Listeing Room: Zayn, Joe Bonamassa, Judas Priest, Lukas Graham and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Saturday, March 26, 2016

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"Mind of Mine"


Grade: B

Toto, we're not in One Direction any more...And Zayn Malik certainly isn't on his debut solo album/declaration of independence from the 1D bubble. In any of its incarnations -- 14-track standard album, 18-track deluxe, 20-track Target edition -- "Mind of Mine" is a celebration of Zayn unchained, but a muted one as well. Its mostly languid, soulful ambience sounds like R. Kelly hanging with Justin Timberlake near dawn in Ibiza, when the party's still echoing and bedtime is still a couple of hours away. Even when he's grooving -- on "BeFoUr," "rEaR vieW" and "TiO" -- Zayn exhibits an offhanded, chill restraint that maintains a sophisticated kind of tension we certainly don't associate with his old band. "Mind of Mine" is more explicitly carnal than 1D, too ('PiLlOw T4lK," "iT's YoU," "wRoNg"), but its songs also convey an emotional complexity that's surprising; Zayn explores an array of feelings and particularly ambivalences that gives the album some surprising weight. And "Golden," the closing track on the Target edition, could become a power ballad smash if it gets broad exposure. In "BeFoUr" he declares that "I'm on the roof/Set it on fire...I'm living on the wire," but the chance-taking serves Zayn well; to his credit, he sounds like a new artist, not a boy band refugee tied to past glories.

New & Noteworthy:

"American Psycho: Original London Cast Recording" (Concord): The fully staged realization of the latest creation by singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik, who previously scored with the Tony Award-winning "Spring Awakening."

Joe Bonamassa, "Blues of Desperation" (J&R Adventures/Provogue): The latest from the prodigious blues-rock guitarist is a wide-ranging set that spans grit to gospel and many points in between."

Judas Priest, "Battle Cry" (Columbia): A live CD and video set from last year's Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany.

Lukas Graham, "Lukas Graham" (Warner Bros.); The U.S. debut by the Danish pop singer and the group that bears his name comes after two No. 1 releases in his homeland.

K. Michelle, "More Issues Than Vogue" (Atlantic): The Memphis R&B singer and actress' third studio album features collaborations with Jason Derulo, Yo Gotti and Trina.

Sean Watkins, "All I Do is Lie" (Fontana): The Nickel Creek member recorded his latest solo album with the bluegrass group Bee Keepers and a hot rhythm section of Mike Elizondo and Matt Chamberlain.

Also Out: Bri Briana Babineaux, "Keys to My Heart" (Capital); Eric Bachmann, "Eric Bachmann" (Merge); Graham Bonnet, "Line Up" (Hear No Evil); Jim Brickman, "Pure Cinema" (Green Hill); Bianca DeLeon, "Love, Guns & Money" (Lonesome Highway); DMX, "And then There Was X" (Def Jam); Anthony Hamilton, "What I'm Feelin'" (RCA); Heather Nova, "The Way It Feels" (Universal); Damien Jurado, "Visions of Us on the Land" (Secretly Canadian); Lee Harvey Osmond, "Beautiful Scars" (MRI); Love/Hate, "Blackout in the Red Room" (Rock Candy); Gregg Martinez, "Soul of the Bayou" (Louisiana Red Hot); Metal Church, "XI" (Nuclear Blast); Parker Milsap, "The Very Last Day" (Thirty Tigers); Bob Mould, "Patch the Sky" (Merge); Night Moves, "Pennied Days" (Domino); Jeff Plankenhorn, "SoulSlide" (LougeSide); The Range, "Potential" (Domino); The Saint Johns, "Dead of Night" (Kemosabe); She Is We, "War" (Vanguard); Sheer Mag, "III" (Static Shock); Allen Stone, "Radius" (ATO); Strutter, "Strutter" (Static Shock); The Thermals, "We Disappear" (Saddle Creek); Tournament, "Teenage Createre" (The End); White Denim, "Stiff" (Downtown); Young & Heartless, "Stay Away"

From The Vaults: Memphis Bleek, "Icon" (Def Jam); Eva Cassidy, "Simply Eva" (Blix Street); Little Feat, "Transmission Impossible" (Eat To The Beat); Pearl Jam, "Chicago 1995 Vol. 1" and "Chicago 1995 Vol. 2" (Parachute); Lee "Scratch" Perry, "The Best of..." (Sanctuary); The Replacements, "The Sire Years" (rhino); Stephen Stills, "Live From Last Vegas, 21st July 1965" (Silver Dollar);

Soundtracks: "Baskin" (Lakeshore); "Fright Night" (Nightfever); "Knight of Cups" (Milan); "House of Cards, Vol. 4" (Varese Srabande)

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