January 23, 2020

Colton Dixon – Identity – Capitol

FourScore
By Kristi Kates | Aug. 5, 2017

Stacking blocks of electronica and pop upon his established base of spiritual alternative rock, Dixon’s latest pulls together sympathetic mental ponderings, encouraging anthems, and conceptual explorations in an ambitious undertaking that mostly works, thanks to the common thread of his hook-writing abilities and sure-footed vocals. Highlights “All That Matters” and the vibrantly-performed “In My Veins” emphasize the way Dixon can construct a song to fill and overflow a stage, even as he delivers a solid message. ***

Blackfield – V – KScope
This album leans on a conceptual approach, but from a surprising genre angle. This is pop filtered through Floydian prog rock, with loads of orchestral interludes, a hint of ’70s hair band (thankfully, not too much), and some solid old-school radio rock on tracks like the unswerving “Lately.” An impressive instrumental (“Salt Water”) serves as a dividing line between two later segments of the album, while the biggest reveal might be the uber-dramatic arrangements of “Undercover Heart.” ** ½

Micah Tyler – Different – Columbia/Fair Trade
The obvious question would be to ask if this new album from Tyler is indeed different or unique sounding, compared to others of a similar pop genre. The answer? Unfortunately, not really. Tyler has a strong, capable voice and an optimistic outlook, both of which gleam confidently throughout this set, but the songs themselves are too predictable, repeating common turns of phrase and conventional chord patterns. That said, Tyler’s heart is in the right place, and there are those striking vocals, so hopefully “different” will mean “much better” next time. **

Chris Quilala – Split the Sky – Sparrow Records
Pulling heavy influences from ’80s synth and poetic lyrical work, Quilala’s first solo set marries electronic swirls with memorable chill-pop refrains for a combination that’s both modern and instantly easy to listen to. “Because of Your Love” sets some serious thought above a funky little bus-stop beat, and the vocals on “Encounter” and “Reign” do some serious borrowing from Josh Groban, while a prettily rendered duet with singer Kari Jobe (“Surrendered”) rounds out this promising and positive collection of new tunes. ***

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