A couple of numbers with a rocking edge are the least effective. Fortunately the set is dominated by acoustic-textured country-folk arrangements with a slower pace that enhance the emotional power of Williams' crisply involving storytelling.
- Nick Cristiano
(Innovative Leisure/Loma Vista/Republic ***1/2)
At first blush, "Open," the debut single from Rhye, sounds like ersatz Sade: slow, sexy, full of longing and soft rock/ smooth jazz instrumentation (and the accompanying soft-core video plays up the eroticism; it may make one blush). The music, courtesy of Danish producer Robin Hannibal, is a pillow of strings, electric keyboards, and steady, patient beats; the vocals, by Canadian Michael Milosh, are androgynous, a whispery alto. It's a captivating song, and Woman, Rhye's debut album, lives up to its promise.
Rhye joins a spate of contemporary artists - Frank Ocean, Inc., Miguel, and the Weeknd among them - exploring the soft side of R&B. The album luxuriates in one mood - a quiet storm of earnest, erotic yearning - for its 36 minutes, and there's nothing ersatz about its restrained, sophisticated sensuality.
- Steve Klinge
Devendra Banhart started his career making eerily naked albums on shabby four-track recorders. Since then, the warbling vocalist (with a mean falsetto) and expressionistic lyricist has made richly decorous albums filled with folk, wild psychedelia, Tin Pan Alley hokum, and the emotionalism (and language) of his Venezuelan heritage.
That he and his longtime collaborator Noah Georgeson brought that lustrous diversity to Mala (Serbian for small) while returning to the rudimentary confines of home recording equipment proves Banhart hasn't lost his flair for spirited experimentalism. He revels in it.
It helps that as a singer, Banhart is one coy romancer. Think Caetano Veloso without the breathiness or Marc Bolan with range.
Whether he's staving off evil ("Taurabolium"), dancing away feelings of isolation ("Golden Girls"), or wishing the best for a 12th-century Catholic cleric ("Für Hildegard von Bingen"), Banhart is pure seduction, especially when lowering his octaves and singing in Spanish, as he does on "Mi Negrita."
Even when his musical arrangements go all over the place - "Fine Petting Duck" goes from doo-wop to hard house - Banhart is the calm at the eye of the storm, a come-hither crooner who makes weirdness ravishing rather than messy.
- A.D. Amorosi
Top Albums in the Region
This Week Last Week
Locally Nationally Locally
1 1 Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox 3
2 2 Atoms For Peace Amok -
3 3 Mumford & Sons Babel 1
4 7 Lumineers Lumineers 4
5 138 Cher Lloyd Sticks & Stones -
6 4 Macklemore & Ryan Lewis The Heist -
7 8 Josh Groban All That Echoes 2
8 9 Rihanna Unapologetic 6
9 6 Various Artists 7
Now That's What I Call Music, Vol. 45
10 12 Fun. Some Nights 5
SOURCE: SoundScan (based on purchase data from Philadelphia and Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester, Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties). Billboard Magazine 3/16/13 © 2013
On Sale Tuesday
Eric Clapton, Old Sock; David Bowie, The Next Day;
Megan Hilty, It Happens All the Time;
Various Artists, Sound City: Real to Reel