Music reviews for Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 2013

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Associated Press
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Toby Keith, “Drinks After Work”

Toby Keith opens his new album, “Drinks After Work,” with a song that uses the hip-hop rhythms dominating contemporary country music these days. At age 52, and in his 20th year as a country star, Keith makes it work for him.

He simply applies the updated rhythms to his typical macho style, filling the lyrics of “Shut Up And Hold On” with sly wit and a load of double entendres that will upset feminists but entertain Keith's working-class fan base.

From there, the Oklahoman slips into his wheelhouse, mixing macho come-ons (“Show Me What You're Workin' With”) with philosophical slices of life (“I'll Probably Be Out Fishin'”) and party tunes about escaping 9-to-5 drudgery (the title cut)—all set to guitar-driven country rock.

What amazes is how consistently Keith hits high marks on “Drinks After Work,” despite releasing an album of new material annually since 2005. The reliability comes from Keith's knack for creating new material that fits his big-shouldered, swaggering persona, with help from a well-established crew of co-writers (Scotty Emerick, Bobbie Pinson and Rivers Rutherford).

From the easy acoustic swing of “The Last Living Cowboy” to the wistful idealism of “Before We Knew They Were Good” to the contemplative romance of “Little Miss Tear Stain,” these songs represent a veteran country star who remains at the top of his game.

—Michael McCall, Associated Press

Robert Glasper Experiment, “Black Radio 2”

After winning the best R&B album Grammy this year for “Black Radio,” the Robert Glasper Experiment returns with a new release that easily could put the band in the running for another.

The Experiment—which consists of pianist and producer Robert Glasper, bassist Derrick Hodge, drummer Mark Colenburg and saxophonist Casey Benjamin—continues its revival of jazz and neo soul on “Black Radio 2,” which takes the band's rebellion against genre integration one step further.

The album kicks off with “Baby Tonight (Black Radio 2 Theme)/Mic Check 2,” a soothing piano intro with short snippets of his featured guests prepping you for what's to come. Here, Glasper is a beast on the keys. Then comes the motivational “I Stand Alone” with Common and Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump. The genre mash-up is a perfect example of the jazz band's resistance to being categorized.

Glasper's array of famous friends on the album include Brandy on the laid-back-yet-addictive “What Are We Doing” and Jill Scott, sounding like butter, on the smooth lead single, “Calls.” Other standout tracks include the Norah Jones-assisted “Let It Ride,” a groovy and upbeat track, and “Somebody Else,” which gets a boost thanks to the elegant vocals of Scottish R&B singer Emeli Sande.

“Black Radio 2” works because Glasper has comfortably picked the right artists to collaborate with. There's nothing to dislike here.

—Bianca Roach, Associated Press

Last updated: 7:31 pm Wednesday, October 30, 2013

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