1.) 21: Adele
2.) Bat Out Of Hell 3: Meatloaf
3.) Crazy Love: Michael Bublé
4.) Unwritten: Natasha Bedinfield
I felt compelled to buy 21 by Adele upon learning that it had stayed at the top of the billboard 200 longer than both Sgt. Pepper and The Wall, a massive 22 weeks and counting. In truth I had already previously witnessed an incredible live vocal performance by Adele singing the touching ballad Someone Like You on the TV one night, so I wasn’t completely unaware of her work. This album begins tremendously with two belters Rolling In The Deep and Rumour Has It. Both tracks represent a kind of soulful pop and both are brilliantly arranged and produced. The second half of 21 tends to drop into a kind of slower tempo soulful, lite-bluesy kinda rock before the spine-tingling’ly emotional Someone Like You which rounds off a rather delightful album which takes first place.
I am Unwritten
Natasha Bedinfield’s deput Unwritten which was produced by Guy Chambers is sumptiously different from anything else in this group. She treads her own path, making pop melodies seam around hip-hop and dance beats.
Being different though isn’t quite enough, you need the material and Unwritten for me falls flat in too many places. There are too many weak sloshy ballads like Size Matters and I Bruise Easily and when the action starts to heat up it’s just not inspiring enough. The Bizarre collaboration sounds forced and tracks like ‘I’m a Bomb‘ and ‘Frogs and Princes‘ just sound like they’re trying too hard. I much prefer the follow-up ‘NB‘ over this, easily weaker than the rest of this group.
I just haven’t met you yet.
On pure vocal talent alone Michael Bublé probably even outshines Adele’s wonderful voice. He is very much a modern day crooner, professionally delivering some beautiful numbers on Crazy Love. Georgia On My Mind especially is delivered with a perfect clarity and tone in what is a superb vocal performance.
Old fashioned Swing/Big Band crooner type music it may mostly be but Crazy Love does have plenty to keep it mainstream with the likes of Haven’t Met You Yet and
Some Kind of Wonderful although tracks like Stardust and All Of Me are pure Jazz and what’s with the sporadic James Bond theme snippets?? Plenty of class here but not really my thing…..
The Monster is Loose
Creating a second sequel to Bat Out Of Hell was a brave move by Steinman and Meatloaf. Could it live up to its two brilliant predecessors? Well it starts with the fairly modern sounding The Monster Is Loose with it’s nu-metal riff but soon descends back into familiar Steinman classic American rock territory with the brilliant epic ballad Blind As A Bat. Bat Out Of Hell 3 does have it’s moments but at times it seems to get lost and dragged out especially in the middle section of Bad For Good/Cry Over Me with In The Land Of the Pig The Butcher Is King not being quite the centrepiece it wants to be.
The album wakes up again as we drive towards to last quarter with Seize The Night and The Future Just Ain’t What It Used To Be. Overall the third installment doesn’t quite have the same magic or charm as the prequels but still has enough anthemic energy and solid quality to easily despose of both Crazy Love and Unwritten and probably isn’t that far behind 21.