Garth Brooks - Sevens (Capitol Records): To country-music fans, Garth Brooks can do no wrong. He's the Michael Jordan of honky-tonk. If you're one of the few country fans who haven't bought "Sevens" yet, throw down this review and skedaddle on over to the music store. "Sevens" is by far his best effort since "No Fences" (1990). "In Another's Eyes," a duet with Trisha Yearwood, is a warm, compassionate love ballad that would make even Dennis Rodman teary-eyed. Other sure-fire hits: "Cowboy Cadillac" and "Do What You Gotta Do," a song about going to extremes just to get by.
- John Christian Hoyle
John Hiatt - Little Head (Capitol Records): For too long John Hiatt has been overlooked. Released this past summer, "My Little Head" is his 14th recording. And if you're thinking about picking this one up, you won't be disappointed. His superb songwriting talents, long recognized (and used) by musicians, are evident here. It's good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll, and as usual he had fun with the lyrics. The lead cut, "My Little Head," is a humorous blues riff sharing his thoughts on why men do the things they do; and "Sure Pinocchio," you guessed it, is about a woman who can't seem to tell the truth. His gentler side can be heard on "My Sweet Girl" and "After All This Time." Both are guaranteed to send anyone off into a daydream.
- Deb Purington
Jackie Brown (A Band Apart/Maverick): Even if you don't like Quentin Tarantino's movies, you have to admit he puts together one great soundtrack. Here, he gives the listener an aural history in '70s soul, from Bobby Womack to Johnny Cash. And he gives the music a prominent role in the movie: Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) sings along with Womack's "Across 110th Street" and her friend Max (Robert Forster) hears music - the Delfonics - when he first meets Jackie. Along with vintage tunes, there are bits of dialogue from the movie mixed in (hence the advisory/explicit content label). This is one groovy soundtrack you shouldn't miss.
- Lisa Leigh Parney