Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews: Week of May 12, 2017

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

Welcome to the latest edition of Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews!

This week, we look at some new material from Top 40 favorites, legendary talents, and upcoming artists who are looking to break into the music industry.  Let’s get this party started.

 

(Album cover property of Columbia Records)

Harry Styles by Harry Styles

Harry Styles’ highly anticipated debut solo album dropped today. The Britpop hero and former One Direction member assembled a superb crew of producers and songwriters such as  Grammy-winning producer Jeff Bhasker, NSAI Award-winning songwriter Tyler Johnson, Alex Salibian, and Kid Harpoon to craft 10 tracks. Listeners could tell that Mr. Styles found inspiration from legendary British rockers David Bowie, Sir Elton John, and Mick Jagger because several of his tracks draw from those iconic performers. This is a solid debut album and I believe that Harry Styles is just cracking the surface of his real potential. Congratulations, Harry! Your debut album is my Album of the Week!  A

Songs to Download: “Sign of the Times,” “Carolina,” “Only Angel,” “Woman,” & “Ever Since New York.”

 

(Album cover property of Mercury Records-a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.)

From A Room: Volume 1 by Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton is one of the hottest country and roots rock artists that is blazing up the charts. After Stapleton dropped his debut album, Traveler, which received praise from numerous media outlets such as Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, and Rolling Stone and picked up several awards such as a Grammy, an Academy of Country Music Award, and an iHeartRadio Music Award, the “Traveler” singer-songwriter released his sophomore album. The first volume of From A Room combined Blues, country rock, and folk rock together for a superb album full of splendid songs that will make listeners tap their toes and make them think.  The only cover that is on this album is the Gary P. Nunn and Donna Farar-penned “Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning,” which was sang by fellow outlaw country artist Willie Nelson.  From A Room continues Stapleton’s ascent to the top of the country music world and he could be one of the artists that will influence the next generation of hitmakers. B+

Tracks to Download: “Broken Halos,” “Second One to Know,” “Either Way,” & “Without Your Love.”

 

 

(Album cover property of GPE Records)

Bel Hommage by Patti LaBelle

A few years ago, Rolling Stone named Patti LaBelle one of 100 greatest singers of all-time. I had the distinguish privilege of watching the Queen of Rock + Soul live in Kansas City in March and she blew the roof off the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. For the first time in her career that spans seven decades, the “Lady Marmalade” singer released a Jazz album. While Ms. LaBelle’s vocals are like fine wine, many longtime Patti LaBelle fan club members might be a little surprised to hear a softer side of Miss Patti. Bel Hommage is an exceptional vocal masterpiece that might be one of the “New Attitude” singer’s finest recordings of the past 12 years and would satisfy Jazz lovers of all ages. B+/A-

Tracks to Download: “The Jazz in You,” “Softly as I Leave You,” “I Can Cook,” & “Moanin’.”

Malibu” by Miley Cyrus

Welcome back, Miley Cyrus! The actress who formerly portrayed Hannah Montana and the returning Voice coach released her latest single: “Malibu.” After listening to this single, I think that it is safe to say that her fans will be relieved that Ms. Cyrus has left her “Wrecking Ball” and tongue-lashing days behind her. The Cyrus-penned track was produced by recurring collaborator, Oren Yoel, who managed to push her into a hybrid of Indie and folk rock sound. Miley’s vocals are still strong and I think everyone will be excited that she is happy and ready to launch the latest phase of her career. B

Sleeping Around the Corner” by Lindsey Buckingham + Christine McVie

Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie’s joint album is coming out in four weeks and the duo released a refreshing take on Lindsey Buckingham’s 2011 hit: “Sleeping Around the Corner.” Mr. Buckingham’s vocals are stronger than ever and if you listen carefully, you might hear support from their Fleetwood Mac band members Mick Fleetwood (percussion/drums) and John McVie (bass guitar). This is a solid single that music lovers can put on repeat and I am looking forward to what both Mr. Buckingham and Ms. McVie bring to the table. A-

 

Amandla Stenberg Let My Baby Stay

(Album cover property of Interscope Records)

Let My Baby Stay” by Amandla Stenberg

Jake’s Take continues to pride itself in introducing our fantastic readers to up-and-coming artists. Up first is singer-actress Amandla Stenberg. Ms. Stenberg covered this Mac DeMarco song for her upcoming May 19 romantic drama: Everything, Everything. Ms. Stenberg’s fantastic vocals blew me away and I think Ms. Stenberg might be a candidate for Generation Z’s torch songstress. I have never heard anything like her sound before and after looking at her impressive resume (The Hunger Games, Lemonade, and Rio 2), I believe she is a “superstar in the making.” B+

Hard Times” by Nathan Sharp aka NateWantsToBattle

One YouTuber that has caught my attention is Nathan Sharp aka NateWantsToBattle. With over 1.1 million YouTube subscribers, Nathan Sharp continues to grow his presence across the Internet. Recently, he released his cover of Paramore’s recent single: “Hard Times.” I love covers and I believe that Nathan perfectly blended bubblegum pop with pop rock together that will put a smile on the viewer’s face. I think Nathan could be one of the best rockers that YouTube discovered and I honestly believe that he should be played on radio across the country right now. A-

 

(Album cover property of Naomi Wachira)

 

Beautifully Human” by Naomi Wachira

The fabulous Naomi Wachira closes out this edition of New Music Reviews. The Kenyan born and Seattle-based Afro-folk singer-songwriter captured the attention of NPR Music, when they featured Naomi on the network’s Tiny Desk Contest on the Road segment. “Beautifully Human” is a single from Ms. Wachira’s sophomore album: Song of Lament. This is probably one of the best songs I have heard in 2017…so far.  Her lyrics stabbed me in the heart and the song’s simplistic melody will hypnotize listeners around the world. Ms. Wachira has a voice that needs to be heard worldwide and in the chaotic and confusing times that we live in, “Beautifully Human” is a shot in the arm that everyone needs. Congratulations, Naomi. “Beautifully Human” is my Song of the Week! A+

I do not own any of the clips that are sprinkled into this article. They belong to the featured artists and their respective record labels.

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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar