Reviews > Notable CDs

Top Albums

Notable CDs | The Top 5 Internet CDs for the week ending Oct. 5, according to Billboard magazine

1. INSIDE WANTS OUT

4 weeks on chart

STYLE Predominantly acoustic pop songs, evocative of creative-writing workshops and other hotbeds of underdeveloped impressionism.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL "Love Soon" (vulgarity)

WORLDVIEW Coming-of-age non-conformity: "They love to tell you / Stay inside the lines / But something's better / On the other side."

OVERALL QUALITY Without the instrumentation and production that these 1999 demos acquired on 2001's Room for Squares, they seem more like sketches than completed songs.

2. HOME

5 weeks on chart

STYLE Unplugged country with bluegrass roots.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL None.

WORLDVIEW That love is a many-faceted, tortured, and tangled thing: fragile yet tough, mundane yet mysterious; as worth fighting for as one's country, as worth making peace for as the dream-filled repose of one's infant son.

OVERALL QUALITY Refreshing. Avoids the overproduction, prefabrication, and obvious cover-song choices usually associated with best-selling country.

3. OCTOBER ROAD

7 weeks on chart

STYLE Definitive easy-listening pop.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL None.

WORLDVIEW "I used to know why / No, I don't know why no more."

OVERALL QUALITY Relatively drab; three decades of familiarity with Mr. Taylor's trademark sound has bred a contempt that these songs, which offer no more in catchiness or depth than their predecessors, do little to alleviate.

4. THE RISING

9 weeks on chart

STYLE Definitive heartland rock.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL None.

WORLDVIEW That this world is passing away, that what existed when we went to bed may not exist when we wake up, that loved ones can die (and not just in terrorist attacks), that death is more than a physical phenomenon, that unless the Lord build the house they labor in vain who build it.

OVERALL QUALITY Very high; reflective and rocking simultaneously.

5. COME AWAY WITH ME

31 weeks on chart

STYLE Breathy, acoustic love songs, evocative of coffeehouses, jazz clubs, and other bohemian haunts.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL None.

WORLDVIEW When experienced as ends in themselves, the pleasures and pains of romance are largely indistinguishable.

OVERALL QUALITY High; unlike her father, Ravi Shankar, Miss Jones operates strictly within the Western pop-musical tradition, sounding older than her 23 years and giving rise to hopes that her career will be long.

In the spotlight

October Road (Columbia) confirms what James Taylor's admirers and detractors alike have long maintained, that the defining element of his immediately recognizable sound is its capacity to soothe. There are worse elements by which a guitar-toting singer-songwriter could be defined-the hypersensitivity and humorlessness of Dan Fogelberg, say, or the simple-minded good cheer of John Denver. On the other hand, there are better qualities, too-the blue-collar intensity of Bruce Springsteen if not the visionary wisdom of Bob Dylan and Van Morrison.

As purveyors of musical calm go, Mr. Taylor has few equals. His warm, friendly voice and seamless, soft-pop instrumentation are a spoonful of sugar helping his already sweet observations on life, love, and turning 54 go down. But calmness for calmness' sake can be lulling. Ultimately, the only performance that's likely to have disinterested listeners returning to October Road is the perfectly all right rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with which the album ends.

Comments

You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading

     

    Phoning it in

    Tests via smartphone may soon challenge traditional methods

     

    Goal keeper

    Ryan Hollingshead put pro soccer on hold to pursue…

     

    Pain and gain

    Experience, including tragic experience, has made Rick Warren a different…

    Advertisement