With four major Holidays right around the corner I was reminded of a gift I received last Halloween. A friend put together a Music Gift Basket for me. It was a simple plain small wicker basket filled with candy, lotions and such, wrapped in orange and black cellophane. Surprisingly it included two CDs from artists that I favored. I thought what a clever idea and did the same in return for them at Thanksgiving. I‰ve never seen a Gift Basket that included music. So this is a trend I‰ve adopted and on holidays and I select one or two friends to receive this type of personalized gift. To help our readers with choosing a unique CD for their someone special, here are some recent and upcoming music releases. that just might be a great addition to a basket full of goodies on any occasion.
CHER – CLOSER TO THE TRUTH – WARNER BROTHERS MUSIC
Well a new CD from Cher is always a joyous occasion. It’s been over 10 years since her last release and this collections’ upbeat tracks remind me an awful lot of RuPaul’s production team. The first single “Woman’s World” is a prime example of a track that seems to have been stolen right out of Ruës bloomers. As with each of Cher’s albums, the ballads are the weakest, but the dance tracks are flawless.
JOAN JETT – UNVARNISHED – BLACKHEART MUSIC
Oh my, is it 1981 all over again? Joan Jett is back with a vengeance here. Sounding as raw as her debut it‰s nice to see Joan go back to her edgy roots and drop all that unnecessary polish. This chick still rocks! The only flaw was a ballad at the close that should have been dropped and replaced with a classic 60’s cover tune which is normally her signature.
ELTON JOHN – THE DIVING BOARD – CAPITOL MUSIC
With every Elton John release I find myself longing for that classic pop-rock sound he so brightly captured in the 70’s. Although “The Diving Board” has nice moments here and there, they are all stuck in the middle of the road. Very little variation in feeling is found on any of the songs. I guess we’ll never see a return a Bennie And The Jets or another stroll down the Yellow Brick Road.
ROD STEWART – TIME – CAPITOL MUSIC
I am so thankful to see Rod Stewart continuing in the Pop-Rock market. It’s been a decade since his last original release “Human,” that wasn’t an American Songbook or Remake Collection. Rod is back on track, returning to the circa mid 80’s sound where he seems most comfortable now in his delivery. This is one of those albums you can enjoy from being to end.
MICHAEL BUBLE – TO BE LOVED – REPRISE MUSIC
Yep I’m a softy at heart and a Michael Buble release makes me want to run out in streets with an umbrella and sing in the rain. This collection features collaborations with Bryan Adams, The Puppini Sisters and of all people, Reese Witherspoon. With four original songs this is his closest release aimed at the Pop Market. It’s nice to experience his dabbling in modern music, but the strongest moments he can offer will always be in the torch or swing song genres
DONNA SUMMER – LOVE TO LOVE YOU DONNA – VERVE MUSIC
I still find it hard to believe that the Queen is gone and any collection of her work is a must have for a stroll down memory lane. This collection is especially purchase worthy as her classics tracks are taken viciously into 2013 and beyond with remixes from the likes of Chris Cox, Afrojack, Laidback Luke and Masters At Work. It is truly like a re-experience. As a bonus, an unreleased song that was recorded in 2011, “La Dolce Vita” is included at the end. Buy this now!
FITZ & THE TANTRUMS – MORE THAN JUST A DREAM – ELEKTRA MUSIC
If you‰re looking for fresh sounds, Fitz & The Tantrums just might fit the bill. They‰re part of the indie-pop scene, but they have something a little more special. There’s a rich soul delivery in vocalist Michael Fitzpatrick that echoes the passion found within Daryl Hall or Rick Astley, even though it is sometimes challenged by the powerful instrumentation. Still not considered mainstream this is a chance to catch Fitz while the experimentation is still in the process.
BOY GEORGE – THIS IS WHAT I DO – VERY ME MUSIC
Looking very chic and bearded-manly on the cover, it was a little hard to guess what to expect from a new record from George. I found the set to be kind of somber throughout aside from the few tracks with reggae flavors. With his ventures into DJ territory I was hoping for something fresh and groundbreaking. His voice is still creamy and flows with ease but seems tired with the laid-back song choices found here. Hopefully some remixes will be issued to build a lasting interest.
KELLIE PICKLER – THE WOMAN I AM – BLACK RIVER MUSIC
After receiving national exposure and winning the Dancing With The Stars competition earlier this year she must have thought that it would be a great thing to release a new album. Smart move Kellie! What I really enjoy about this release is that she didn’t change her style or try to go “Pop” to cash in on the added interest. Pickler stays true to her roots with this release. It’s as slick as her dance movies and that’s saying a lot.
GLEN CAMPBELL – SEE YOU THERE – SURFDOG MUSIC
In 2008 I was blown away with Glen Campbell’s ‹Meet Glen CampbellŠ set of modern rock covers. It was one of my favorites that year and reintroduced me to his vast body of work. I was saddened to learn that he was on a goodbye tour due to his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Though recorded shortly prior to that tour, this may be the last recording he will make. On “See You There,” Campbell revisits some his best-known songs with new arrangements and bare bones studio techniques, which reflect an inner peace and thoughtful reflection. I can’t say they are better or improved because that would be ridiculous, but they are nevertheless touching.
JOHNNY MATHIS – SENDING YOU A LITTLE CHRISTMAS – COLUMBIA MUSIC
Now what’s Christmas without Johnny Mathis I always say. As a well-grounded staple in the holiday play list, 2013 welcomes new Mathis recordings featuring duets with Susan Boyle, Gloria Estefan, Vince Gill, Billy Joel and more. Mathis is still an impact in front of the microphone. His sound is timeless and what better than a new holiday album to celebrate his over 50 years of recording.