Album reviews for June 5, 2014

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Gazette wire services
Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Miranda Lambert, “Platinum”

Let’s cut to the chase: Miranda Lambert’s new “Platinum” album isn’t just the finest work of her already-strong career, it’s also the best album so far in an already impressive 2014.

Lambert does it by foregoing marketing strategies and current trends. She simply follows her heart and speaks her mind.

It’s hard to imagine another superstar daring to be as raw as Lambert is in “Bathroom Sink,” where her chorus is “It’s amazing the amount of rejection that I see in my reflection, but I can’t get out of the way,” while still managing to rock hard.

Lambert effortlessly bounces from the Western swing style of “All That’s Left” with the Time Jumpers to the Def Leppard-styled arena rock of “Somethin’ Bad” with Carrie Underwood. It’s clear that “Platinum” isn’t about packaging Lambert as some sort of salable country star, which was an issue with her last album. This is about ripping away the packaging to let Miranda be Miranda.

Whether it’s the Bonnie Raitt-ish “Holding on to You,” which she co-wrote with fellow Pistol Annie Ashley Monroe and Jessi Alexander, or the honky-tonk sing-along “Gravity’s a Bitch,” Lambert uses whatever country-leaning style suits her material best. She might be most effective, though, when, like her husband, Blake Shelton, she romanticizes the glory days of country, as she does in the first single, “Automatic,” and the gorgeous “Another Sunday in the South.”

—Glenn Gamboa, Newsday

Santana, “Corazón”

Carlos Santana has made raging, Latin-tinged psychedelia since his band’s 1969 eponymous debut and 1970s hits such as “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman.” But the Mexican native has seldom embraced such a fully Latino-based album as he does here, in “Corazón.”

Like 1999’s “Supernatural,” the new album matches Santana’s nimble fingerings, fiery rhythms and incendiary solos with the work of notable vocalists. Unlike that former effort, “Corazón” isn’t vanilla. Instead, it brings in some big names in Latin music—Miguel, Romeo Santos and others—to push Santana to flavorful new heights. Or old heights, because the guitarist hasn’t sounded this gutsy, frenetic, or mean since 1987’s “Blues for Salvador.”

Forget “Oye 2014” with Pitbull, “Corazón’s” sole misstep. Backed by rugged Latin percussionists, Santana’s guests keep this party unpolite yet elegant, with their host leading the charge. While Los Fabulosos Cadillacs tackle the palpitating cumbia “Mal Bicho,” Juanes adds his liquid croon to the anthemic “La Flaca.” Though “Una Noche en Napoles” is “Corazón’s” best vocal workout—a sensual meeting of Lila Downs, Niña Pastori and Soledad—the jamming salsa of “Yo Soy la Luz,” co-starring drummer Cindy Blackman-Santana, is its zestiest.

—A.D. Amorosi, The Philadelphia Inquirer

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