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International Music Releases From The Second Half of March 2021- Reviewed

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Blackmore’s Night/ Nature’s Light, Folk-Rock, Edel Germany

Everybody knows Ritchie Blackmore as the outstanding guitarist of rock bands Deep Purple and Rainbow. For the past 24 years, he’s also had this folk-rock project Blackmore’s Night with his wife Candice Night. Their new album Nature’s Light continues the magic.

The music is a stunning blend of Celtic music, medieval melodies, American roots sounds and rock inflections. Besides the acoustic and electric guitars, Blackmore plays mandolin, hurdy-gurdy and the Swedish nyckelharpa. Get the drift?

An American, Night has perfect command over the British folk idiom, singing songs that tell stories of life and love. Once Upon December and Four Winds are vibrant folk-rock renditions reminiscent of the groups Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, and The Twisted Oak drips with melody.

Darker Side Of Black is a melancholic instrumental with a stunning guitar climax. The theatrical air of the title track and the brilliant vocal-guitar interplay and mind-blowing solos on Second Element make the Nature’s Delight album a natural delight.

Rating: 9/ 10

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Lana del Rey/ Chemtrails Over The Country Club, Dream Pop, Universal

American singer-songwriter Lana del Rey has attracted a devoted audience with her dream pop sound, and lyrics that talk of sadness and ill-fated romance. The problem is that she tends to stick to a certain formula, sounding monotonous after a point.

Her seventh studio album Chemtrails Over The Country Club starts off with a few relatable songs, with the neat title track sung in a chant-like fashion. The lines go, “I’m on the run with you, my sweet love, there’s nothing wrong contemplating God, under the chemtrails over the country club”.

In fact, the album’s lyrics are what hold one’s attention to an extent. On Dark But Just A Game, she sings, “The faces aren’t the same but their stories all end tragically… and that’s the price of fame”. And there’s a beautiful ballad in Let Me Love You Like A Woman.

Yet, the similar structures and moods make it difficult to sit through this album at a stretch. Or maybe it’s the perfect stuff to listen to when you want your mood to be gloomier.

Rating: 6/ 10

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Jane Monheit/ Come What May, Vocal Jazz, Club44 Records

Two decades ago, singer Jane Monheit arrived on the scene with Never Never Land, her interpretation of standards and oldies. On her latest Come What May, she proves again that her voice and style are tailormade for the classics.

Over 10 songs in 48 minutes, Monheit impresses with her immaculate phrasing and ability to present different moods. Popular numbers like Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Samba Do Aviao and the Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart classic My Funny Valentine are given fresh treatment.

Frank Loesser’s I Believe In You has just the right amount of scatting. Let’s Face The Music And Dance and Let’s Take A Walk Around The Block are sung with flourish, and have verve.

With its lush arrangements and Michael Kanan’s piano, the Hoagy Carmichael song The Nearness Of You remains one of the highlights. Even after hearing so many versions of the tune, you discover that Monheit makes it her own.

Rating: 8/ 10

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No One Sings Like You Anymore/ Chris Cornell, Rock Covers, Universal

The frontman of the bands Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple Of The Dog, Chris Cornell shocked fans with his suicide in 2017. His music continued to be released posthumously, and the latest is a compilation of covers he had recorded earlier.

The album title No One Sings Like You Anymore is taken from Cornell’s popular song Black Hole Sun. He begins with Janis Joplin’s Get It While You Can, singing, “In this world where people are fighting with each other, there’s no one you can count on”.

Harry Nilsson’s Jump Into The Fire, John Lennon’s Watching The Wheels and the Guns N’ Roses song Patience get fresh treatment, with Cornell’s distinct expression. The biggest surprise is his take on Nothing Compares 2 U, written by Prince and popularised by Sinead O’Connor. Cornell had first recorded it as a tribute to Prince.

There’s a gem in his version of Carl Hall’s You Don’t Know Nothing About Love, and Electric Light Orchestra’s Showdown has a rock n’ roll punch. In the past, Cornell has done many covers, including Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean and John Lennon’s Imagine. Surely, this is another treat for fans.

Rating: 8/ 10

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Narendra Kusnur

Author: Narendra Kusnur

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