By Joe Walker
Ain’t Nothing Like Me
Joe’s R&B status on the urban music totem poll was once somewhere very close to the top, but recently he found it necessary to collaborate with many of today’s top rappers for rub – which nearly brought him down a peg or two. With a signature sound which needs no introduction or repackaging, his latest efforts makes him just another face in the crowd. Solo his vocals and song writing still shine, when teamed is when his gloss fades.
Here on his sixth record, Young Buck, Papoose, Chamillionaire and Fabolous add nothing to Joe’s weighted arrangements, though Nas’ in-depth, soulful lyrics are welcomed on "Get To Know Me". Co-production by new faces Cool & Dre, Bryan Cox and The Underdogs worked out pleasantly with Joe’s established sound maintenance, building around his standout voice. Songs like "My Love", "Just Relax" and "Love Is Just A Game" saved this album from being a blemish on Joe’s impressive resume.
Good Girl Gone Bad
Rihanna ditches the pop princess act for a bad girl role that’s all good. Her third alum in as many years, she’s grown as a woman, a writer, a vocalist and an all-around artist; this latest being her best release yet – gone from hot newcomer on her previous releases, to just plain hot. With her sound bigger, her look and content more mature, Def Jam president Sean "Jay-Z" Carter wasn’t going to let Rihanna’s temperature turn cold, so he brought in production mainstays Christopher "Tricky" Stewart and Terius "The Dream" Nash to put the right music with writer Ne-Yo’s pen; he wrote single "Umbrella" to extend Rihanna’s flame. Heck, Jay-Z even added a
verse to the song for good measure. Timberland and Justin Timberlake also contributed, working with Rihanna on songs "Rehab" and "Let Me Get That".
Call Me Irresponsible
Buble climbs to new vocal heights on his latest, from singing in five-part harmony with Boyz II Men on "Comin Home Baby" to a cool finger snap, a cappella jump-off with "The Best Is Yet To Come". The big band backing
ones are accustomed to hearing Michael over gets a more modern studio sound here, yet his singing required no upgrade or digital tinkering. Like an ice cream smoothie to a drinking glass in the sun, Buble’s melting is sure to make ones sweat on yet another excellent album.
Mail press and album review material to – Joe Walker, PO Box 1375, East Lansing, MI 48826-1375, 517-914-6976.