Jan 18, 2007

New Music Review

One last slow week before the deluge of new releases begins its regular gush. Given the prominence of the film "Dreamgirls" over the holiday season, it only makes sense that Diana Ross, whose life is the obvious inspiration for at least some of the film's pastiche, would crawl out of the woodwork. It's unlikely, however, that "I Love You" are words she would say to anyone associated with the movie, or the stage show that inspired it. Still, Ms. Ross is legendary, and her new album features covers of, shockingly, love songs by Joe Cocker, Berlin, Heart and others. "I Love You" is intended (according to her publicist) as "Diana's personal offering to honor celebrations of love, from the glance of your first true love, through the joy of children, and love everlasting."

A more surprising comeback arrives courtesy of America, the early '70s hitmakers now best known as the band that sounded exactly like Neil Young on that one song ("Horse With No Name") and George Harrison on that other one ("Sister Golden Hair"). "Here & Now" is a new LP, produced by Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne and James Iha from Smashing Pumpkins, that features songs written by contemporary indie groups such as Nada Surf and Maplewood (members of both groups appear on the album, along with Ryan Adams, Ben Kweller and, uh, Stephen Bishop). America '07-style sounds pretty fresh, but still kind of '70s AM radio. A nice combination.

The unimpeachable Rev. Al Green is also back with "The Definitive Greatest Hits," a two-disc collection of hits and favorites, while Portland, Ore., indie popsters Stars of Track and Field offer this week's freshest blood with the catchy, rocking "Centuries Before Love and War."

Also New This Week
The Smithereens: "Meet the Smithereens!" (Beatles covers)
Stacie Orrico: "Beautiful Awakening"
Sarah Vaughan: "Music for Lovers"
Dinah Washington: "Music for Lovers"
Joe Williams: "Music for Lovers"
Nancy Wilson: "Music for Lovers"