Listen Up notables: Lambert, Presley, more
This week in music
By Brian Mansfield, Jerry Shriver, Edna Gundersen and Elysa Gardner, USA TODAYMay 14, 2012
Trespassing is the album that fans of the former American Idol runner-up have been wanting from him. More cohesive and personal than 2010's For Your Entertainment, it finds Lambert drawn to the beats and sounds of EDM, combining over-the-top dance grooves with multi-tracked vocal marvels. While the title track riffs off Queen's Another One Bites the Dust, the final song, Outlaws of Love, may be the one with traction, a poignant song that addresses the human cost of living outside societal approval.
Remember Little Stevie Wonder's joyous yelp of a voice against that insistent Motown beat early in his career? Georgia-born, gospel-trained Shaw evokes a similar feeling on Real Love with opening tracks Real Love and Karina on his follow-up to 2007's terrific This Is Ryan Shaw. From there the 31-year-old with the multi-octave voice revives grittier aspects of '60s soul — think Wilson Pickett and James Brown — without sounding excessively retro. Even fans of contemporary R&B will embrace the stellar, heartfelt grooves of The Wrong Man and In Between.
Six years after 2006 cinematic belly flop The Pick of Destiny, Jack Black and Kyle Gass are back with Rize of the Fenix, an entertaining rock 'n' droll album full of big laughs and even bigger riffs. While Rize gets much of its ferocious kick from the drum splendor of Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, the comic duo gets credit for delivering its loony tunes with invention, fist-pumping energy and authentic rock-metal bombast.
On Storm & Grace, producer T Bone Burnett dresses Presley's dusky voice in stark, beautifully textured folk-pop arrangements that show off her famous Southern roots. It's a more flattering fit than her previous outings have offered, and likely to enhance Presley's critical cachet; but all the artful moodiness begins to feel self-conscious after a while, and ultimately doesn't reveal a more distinct identity.
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