Whether you term Sade a solo artist or a band, Sades jazz-pop is still of note, even though the bulk of their on-the-radar work was back in the late 80s and early 90s. This ultimate collection includes 29 tunes in all, including Sades best-known track, the Spanish-flavored Smooth Operator, as well as additional songs Still in Love with You, a standout Neptunes remix of By Your Side with added guitars, and a well-done experimental revamp of The Moon and the Sky which adds trip-hop beats and spoken-word overlays from Jay-Z. Its a solid best-of that also includes four previously unreleased songs for added interest.
Eddie Vedder - Ukelele Songs - Monkey Wrench
Like the title says - and no, its no joke - this is indeed a set of tunes performed by Vedder, with vocals on ukelele, including both covers and original songs that Vedder has performed live at times but never released. Its an interesting and effective break from his role as Pearl Jam frontman; although most of the songs are sparsely arranged and devoid of much heft, theyre still performed prettily enough to be entertaining. Cant Keep, Without You, and Vedders collaboration with The Frames Glen Hansard on Sleepless Nights are standouts; first single Longing to Belong is on its way to radio as you read this.
Rihanna - Loud - Def Jam
Several of the songs on Rihannas latest might have been better included thematically in her previous release, Rated R - or even X, for that matter. For such a hip-hop talent, its a shame that Rihanna has to be so gratuitous in her lyric-writing, which takes away from the songs themselves, but there are still a few tracks here worthy of attention. Whats My Name, featuring Drake, is a catchy throwback to Rihannas older work, while Only Girl, the first single, is set to stand out on radio, and Complicated is reminiscent of Destinys Child; Love the Way You Lie Part II mightve worked if she hadnt allowed Eminem to dominate the track.
Ben Harper - Give Til Its Gone - V Records
Recorded in Jackson Brownes L.A. studio (Browne also throws in some vocals on Harpers Pray That Our Love Sees the Dawn from this very set), Harpers 10th collection of tunes was influenced in part by folk-rocker Neil Young and was co-written in part with Beatle Ringo Starr. Starrs contributions on the bubbly, 60s-inflected Spilling Faith and the mostly-instrumental Get There From Here are two of the albums best moments, while first single Rock N Roll is Free was directly inspired by Young and showcases Harpers retro abilities; Dont Give Up On Me Now focuses on his more personal side.