Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
Kelly Rowland, ‘Here I Am’
It’s never a good sign when an album’s street date gets pushed back – especially by a year. But for Kelly Rowland, whose junior LP was originally due last September, it could be just the thing the project needed. It’s the best and most cohesive of the three, bent on selling the former Destiny’s Child as a sex-obsessed Janet Jackson who wants a lover to “last more rounds” to “make mama proud,” as she sexually coos on the especially horned-up “Motivation.” Still confusing her with the other Destiny’s Child chicks? Just remember: Rowland’s the new Ms. Nasty. So much of this CD, which includes 10 tracks, is like sonic smut – but it’s also more interesting than Rowland’s been since she launched her solo career, and that’s probably not saying much. She’s swaggering on the opening club cut, “I’m Dat Chick,” and then she simulates more sex than a night at the bathhouse: “Lay it on Me” (it sounds like a hit, and like everything else on radio), “All of the Night” (a mid-tempo about “bumpin'” in the bedroom) and “Down for Whatever” (about doing it on the dance floor). Backing her is a bevy of music heavyweights like Rodney Jerkins and RedOne with beats du jour that lean toward Euro-pop. And for “Commander,” she grabs David Guetta, who helped her score a hit single with “When Love Takes Over.” Their new collabo pales in comparison, which is the problem with a lot of “Here I Am” – the songs aren’t bad for what they are, but none of them really say: Yes, she’s here. Grade: B-
Kasey Chambers, ‘Little Bird’
Considering the kind of country gals we have in the down-home department, Kasey Chambers deserves to be right up there with the Taylors and Carries. And she is in her native Australia, where she’s a big deal – her 2002 album, the seven-times platinum “Barricades & Brickwalls,” sold more copies than any artist but Kylie Minogue. Four albums later, she delivers “Little Bird,” a solid CD that maintains a pop-country appeal while also preserving the genre through some rustic flavor and old-school sounds. She does traditional terrifically with the rollicking “Georgia Brown” and the sweeping “Love Like a Hurricane.” “Bring Back My Heart,” though, is a keen heartbreaker with Patsy Cline’s name stamped all over its classic swing sound. Chambers is just as convincing going the contemporary route: “Someone Like Me” is an adorable ditty that would be suitable for Swift, but Chambers gives it more than the sweetness it needs – there’s a strong yearning, almost verging on begging, as she beautifully draws out the chorus with her achy vocals. “This Story” could easily be a hit. Twisting the typical Swift genre of relationships-with-fairytale-endings into one that wasn’t, she sings, “Tell this story, change it for me, take her out and put me back in.” Because Chambers is so good, this doesn’t just seem like a song for a lover – it could also be a justifiable cry for your attention. And you should give it to her. Grade: B+
Roxette, ‘Greatest Hits’
Their songs are instantly recognizable, but the band name attached to them never seems to stick (and no, they’re not The Ones Who Sing That “Pretty Woman” Song). Now, however, you won’t have a choice but to remember, as the Swedish ’80s duo hype their first all-new album in over 10 years with, well, it’s pretty obvious – their greatest hits. Besides, obviously, killer power ballads like “Listen to Your Heart” and “It Must Have Been Love,” there are 10 other take-you-back tracks. Among them: “Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave)” and the charming “Church of Your Heart.” Nothing ultra fans don’t have, but a nice intro to… oh, what’s their name?
Hercules & Love Affair, ‘Blue Songs’
The New York clan’s eponymous 2008 debut featured some of the best house revivalist music in years, but the same can’t be said of its follow-up – there’s just not much to latch onto here. Even when their lyrics intrigue with an incessant repetitiveness, like on the story-song “Step Up” (with guest vocalist Kele Okereke of Bloc Party), the music hangs in the backdrop like plain white walls, especially on the plodding closer “It’s Alright.” And it’s not necessarily because of all the band member swaps, or that they’re not doing the all-out disco thing. But “Blue Songs” could’ve been so much more. This love affair’s on hold, Hercules.