Noteworthy: reviews of new music

The Wedding Present - Take Fountain (Manifesto):

Tip your hat to rockers who don't burn out or fade away. That includes David Gedge - singer-songwriter-guitarist of England's The Wedding Present (1985-97 and now) and Cinerama (during the hiatus in between). Cinerama was a catchy pop-rock band, but more atmospheric than The Wedding Present, with bits of brass and strings and fewer frenzied guitar lines. "Take Fountain," released last year, actually started as a Cinerama project, and sounds it, but turned into The Wedding Present's re-emergence. These are a batch of chiming, yearning songs with the classic theme of love-gone-bad running through them. Sadness, regret, and unabashed looks back - these are some of Gedge's favorite things. "I'll admit we had some memorable days," he sings, "Just not very many" in "I'm from Further North Than You." "Mars Sparkles Down On Me'' is wrenching and gorgeous. And, yes, there are some bracing guitar lines strewn about these textured, melodic tunes. Grade: A-
- Jim Sullivan

Andrea Bocelli - Amore (Universal Classics):

An album filled with European love songs instead of opera arias seems like taking a day off for Bocelli. Singing in Spanish, French, English, and Italian, the popular tenor rarely mounts grand fortissimo forays to the top of his range. Instead, he delivers standards like "Besame Mucho" and "Les Feuilles Mortes (Autumn Leaves)" in a sweet, sensitive, unlabored, and characteristically sincere style. Guest artists Christina Aguilera, Kenny G, and Stevie Wonder drop in on a few tracks, but never take over. The CD culminates with the inspirational "Because We Believe," featuring Bocelli's own lyrics, which he'll perform Sunday at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics. Fans should gobble up this aural confection, while critics can be satisfied that he's found his true calling - as a consummate Euro-balladeer. Grade: B
- Gregory M. Lamb

Ray Davies - Other People's Lives (V2):

What happens when you remove all the Kinks from Ray Davies? A solo album that sounds as if they'd never left. Ten years after the last official Kinks offering, the leader of that influential band is in a ruminative mood, bowed by the challenges of aging and contemplating his own Waterloo sunset. It's an uneven effort - the bland studio musicians can't touch the sloppy exuberance of his ex-bandmates, and the lyrics' obsession with age and health gets a bit old. But when Davies's ageless voice is pushed forward in the mix on tracks like the Kinksian "After the Fall" and the warm, wistful "Next Door Neighbour," the magic is back and all is forgiven. Suddenly it's Ray being Ray again. And for those of us tired of waiting all these years, that's saying something. Grade: B
- John Kehe

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