Bon Jovi rocks; Streisand rolls
From USA Today online.
This week sees the return of both Bon Jovi and Babs. Jon Bon Jovi and company slap a crooked grin on the grim state of mainstream rock, while Streisand partners up with Barry Gibb for a creamy pop confection.
Barbra Streisand, Guilty Pleasures (* * * Œ© out of four) Adult-contemporary pop doesn’t come smoother or creamier than this collection reuniting the genre’s most durable diva with writer/producer/sometime-vocal partner Barry Gibb, her collaborator on 1980’s Guilty. Early highlights of the new CD include the lilting duets Come Tomorrow and Above the Law. But stay tuned for Streisand’s graceful take on the Bee Gees-composed Andy Gibb hit (Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away and the wistful ballad Letting Go, both ideal showcases for her shimmering, shivery warmth. √≥Elysa Gardner (Related chat: Talk fall music with Ken Barnes, 1 p.m. ET)
Bon Jovi, Have a Nice Day (* * *) Critics who consider Bruce Springsteen the only favorite son of New Jersey tend to discount the rock ‘n’ roll heart and heft of Bon Jovi, a band with an undeniable gift for hot-wired hooks and choruses. On its ninth studio album, Bon Jovi’s anthemic signature emerges in the bile-stabbed title track, the charging Story of My Life and Last Man Standing, a nod to Bob Dylan. Jon Bon Jovi holds his own on the country-flavored duet with Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles, Who Says You Can’t Go Home. Though the pulse drags in Welcome to Wherever You Are and elsewhere, Have a Nice Day has a nice way of slapping a crooked grin on the grim state of mainstream rock. √≥Edna Gundersen
David Banner, Certified (* * *) The Mississippi rapper/producer can get crunk with the best of them. But it is his politically charged anthems about poverty in his home state and elsewhere that are his most potent work. Lost Souls deftly describes living on society’s bottom rung, while X-ed speaks for those left behind altogether. My Life gives historical perspective to racial and economic equality. At the same time, Banner unleashes a few club bangers, such as the salacious Play and the delirious On Everything. It’s a mix that is certified to both educate and entertain. √≥Steve Jones
Charlie Wilson, Charlie, Last Name Wilson (* * *) Most artists sing the praises of their influences. R. Kelly helps them sing for themselves. Former Gap Band lead singer Wilson, like Ronald Isley before him, takes full advantage of Kelly’s writing and studio prowess to do some of his best work in years. His soulful handling of everything from romantic ballads to playa anthems reminds you why Uncle Charlie is one of the hip-hop generation’s favorite musical relatives. In addition to Kelly, Wilson gets assists from the likes of Twista, Snoop Dogg, the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.I.Am and Justin Timberlake. In a nice turnabout, Wilson covers Let’s Chill, a ’90s Guy classic led by star pupil Aaron Hall. It shows how long Wilson has been giving lessons and how much more he has to teach. √≥Jones
Patty Loveless, Dreamin’ My Dreams (* * Œ©) Loveless comes down from the mountain on her latest, and Albert Lee heralds her return to rootsy country-rock with the slippery guitar lines that open her rendition of Richard Thompson’s Keep Your Distance. Few artists have Loveless’ ear for material, and Dreamin’ is a treasure-trove of great songs. The familiar ones (Steve Earle’s oft-covered My Old Friend the Blues; Delaney & Bonnie’s Never Ending Song of Love, sung with Dwight Yoakam) grab your attention first, allowing lesser-known songs such as Jim Lauderdale and Leslie Satcher’s painfully clear-eyed When Being Who You Are Is Not Enough to sneak up and tear your heart out. √≥Brian Mansfield
Bon Jovi rocks; Streisand rolls