Adriane Pontecorvo: Lana Del Rey is more than the sum of her parts. Her voice is good, her lyrics are relatable, and her melodies are pleasant. That’s a good enough start, but it’s not what makes her special. Her hook, the reason she has such a die-hard fanbase and continues to sell album after album, is glamour. It’s in her name, her style, her videos, her music: a haunting blend of romance and tragedy, velvet and starlight, the open spaces of America and the smoky darkness of an old-fashioned jazz lounge. None of this is to take away from her raw talents, singing and writing, which are above average even in a song about such oft-repeated subjects as young love and looking back. But, as with any real star, it’s her delivery, the melancholy with which she sings that “it’s enough just to make you go crazy, crazy, crazy,” that entrances. “Love” is another wistful chapter in Lana Del Rey’s songbook, nostalgic, bittersweet, and benefiting from Del Rey’s affinity for all things heartbreaking. [8/10]
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Blues/folk/soul singer Ruthie Foster is a roots music wunderkind. From those aforementioned three genres and into gospel and rock, Foster refuses to be penned in, but rather allows her muse to take her where it will and we the audience are just left shaking our heads in collective amazement. What resonates with me the most about Foster is that she’s a pure musical force of nature, a master musician and an artist graced with one of the finest vocal instruments in the roots world.
Mike Schiller: Sampha’s been riding a wave of under-the-radar success thanks largely to memorable guest spots with Drake, Kanye West and Solange, and it feels like he’s barely a step away from hitting pop radio and turning his sizable talent into megastardom. This is probably not that step, but it is further confirmation of the power and beauty that Sampha brings to his music. The ring of the piano itself is beautiful here; the slightly distant sound we get from (presumably) using an upright rather than a grand piano is perfect for the mood Sampha’s going for, and his words—and they way he delivers those words, pushing through some of them, falling off toward the ends of lines—are absolutely, stunningly gorgeous. [9/10]
Adriane Pontecorvo: The world’s coolest dads are back with a snarling, on-the-nose critique of jingoism, current politics, and, above all, a lack of full-scale revolt. Their electronics are as sharp and slick as ever, layers of rocking synths and growling guitars that build as Dave Gahan bitterly tries to fan the flames of rebellion. Depeche Mode didn’t come this far to let the masses stay comfortable. This is a band that’s here to rile the blissfully ignorant and the unduly comfortable, and “Where’s the Revolution”, has no time for the rabble that won’t be roused. [7/10]
Steve Horowitz: This is a truly adorable video and an endearing song. Muppet love! And damn, D.R.A.M. has an infectious grin. Musically the song is infectious pop with a not so innocent-innocence. The catchy hooks and beat make the time go fast and before one knows it, one has to play the song again. There was a time not so long ago where the word “cute” was used as an insult as in “Don’t get cute.” D.R.A.M. redeems the term and makes an appealing plea for its return as a compliment. Kudos are in order! [9/10]