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Album reviews for July 10, 2014

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Gazette wire services
July 10, 2014

Trey Songz, “Trigga”

Six albums in and making R&B hits almost seems too easy for Trey Songz.

He’s got the vocals of a crooner with the swagger of a rapper, and on his latest release, “Trigga,” the heartthrob once again darts between the bedroom and bottle service, sending his sweet vocals soaring over a landscape of seductive beats, beautiful melodies and lyrics that beg to be repeated.

But Songz’s latest set is missing something: growth. Shuffle through the tracks on “Trigga” and while there’s plenty of fun, there’s almost zero evidence that Songz has created something that would make his latest album more memorable than the five preceding it. For all its catchiness—thanks in part to a sampling of Teena Marie’s “Oh La La La”—lead single “Na Na” sounds like something he could have released alongside his biggest pop hit, the Nicki Minaj-assisted “Bottoms Up,” in 2010.

Songz blurs the lines between good and bad guy on second single “Smartphones,” singing “time is not on our side” in a such a beautiful way, it’s easy to forget that the track is about the singer pocket-dialing his main chick while he’s hanging with his side chick. And that’s where he excels—singing sweetly about acting badly—as he demonstrates on “Disrespectful” featuring Mila J, the sister of up-and-comer Jhene Aiko.

Songz ranks high on the list of R&B contemporaries, but perhaps a little self-reflection and musical risk-taking would prove he’s bested earlier versions of himself.

—Melanie J. Sims, Associated Press

Judas Priest, “Redeemer of Souls”

It takes a lot for a band to make up for a “farewell tour” that ended up not being a farewell after all. But on its new studio album, Judas Priest has redeemed itself nicely.

Simply put, “Redeemer of Souls” is the best album this band has done in more than 20 years. Powerful, fierce, captivating and clever, this could be the hard rock/heavy metal album of the year.

It opens with a roar with “Dragonaut” and the melodic but still rocking title track.

Things really get interesting on “Halls of Valhalla.” Priest’s one concession to age is that Rob Halford’s air-raid siren vocals have given way to mid-register singing. The wails of “Painkiller” or “The Sentinel” are few and far between here, but they do surface in a glorious way on “Valhalla.”

 “March of the Damned” has the same bottom-heavy groove as “Metal Gods”; it even has similar sound effects of heavy items bashing against each other and scraping on the floor.

So, if you thought Judas Priest was done—like the band briefly said it was—you’ve got another thing coming. And that’s just fine.

—Wayne Parry, Associated Press

Colt Ford, “Thanks For Listening”

Country music’s pre-eminent singer/rapper Colt Ford is out with his fifth studio album, “Thanks For Listening,” a release thick with featured vocals from other artists and a keen ear toward the caricature of the country lifestyle.

This is mostly good old boy territory, with an occasional hip-hop backing beat thrown in for good measure. “The High Life,” featuring Chase Rice alongside Ford, says as much. There’s football-watching, hard-drinking and late-night living to be had, and Ford’s having it all at high speed.

“Cut Em All” also delivers a mean country swagger, replete with four-wheeling and hunting. It even has featured vocals from Willie Robertson of the hit TV series “Duck Dynasty.”

Ford’s lyrics aren’t always the meatiest, but his approach is not to dwell too deeply on the human condition. He’s here to have fun and let us all know how he had it.

By Ron Harris, Associated Press



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