CD reviews


Annie Lennox - Bare (J Records): Possessing one of the truly great voices in any genre of music, the soulful Scot confirms her lofty station on 11 new self-penned tunes. Never one to get carried away on the wings of current fashion, she sounds as timeless as ever on these songs of loss and heartbreak, defiance and independence. The arrangements are rich and imaginative, from the sinuous slow jam of "The Hurting Time" to the Eurythmics-style synth-pop of "Bitter Pill." A triumphant return to form from a major talent. By John Kehe

Jewel - 0304 (Atlantic): Who knew that somewhere inside this quiet, introspective folk singer there was a pop diva waiting to burst out? In the liner notes, Jewel explains that she wanted to make a record that combines dance, urban, and folk music. She neglected to mention the final part of the recipe: heaping spoonfuls of sugar. Although the hit single "Intuition" is catchy and fun, it doesn't sound any different from any other candy-coated Top 40 hit. If you like sweet and sugary, this album is for you. But it seems that Jewel missed the memo that the Britney Spears look is out. By Lisa Leigh Connors

Radiohead - Hail to the Thief (Capitol): The opening track of Radiohead's new album, "2+2=5," starts with Thom Yorke's choirboy falsetto accompanied by a hyperactive metronome beat. Suddenly, a tsunami of guitar and drums rushes in, and Yorke's voice becomes frenzied, surfing the musical crest. Following two albums in which the band eschewed the rock roots of their earlier masterpieces "The Bends" and "OK Computer," it's the welcome return of a more organic sound. "Hail to the Thief" does have some dreary tracks and Atari-game electronic sounds, but there's a more human feel to this album. By Stephen Humphries

Steely Dan - Everything Must Go(Reprise): Is there something wrong with my headphones, or could the lifetime members of The Curmudgeon Club for Men - Donald Fagen and Walter Becker - actually be enjoying themselves on this record? It sure sounds like it. Their reputation as studio control freaks is nowhere to be found here. Instead, they deliver a breezy collection of quirky jazz-pop with a surprising helping of sincerity, Steely Dan style, of course. - J.K.


Buddy Guy - Blues Singer (Silvertone): Call it déjà blues. Forty years ago, an up-and-coming bluesman was invited to play backup guitar for his idol on an all-acoustic record, to be called "Muddy Waters: Folk Singer." In that legendary session, Buddy Guy laid down some of the most tasteful and laid-back acoustic blues licks ever committed to vinyl. Now, in an affectionate homage to that stripped-down project, Guy again unplugs, this time letting his lived-in voice do the talking. With guests like Eric Clapton and B.B. King lending deft instrumental support on 12 blues classics, Buddy delivers a near classic himself. - J.K.


Led Zeppelin - DVD (Atlantic): Led Zeppelin is the most bootlegged band ever. When it improvised as a live unit, it created nuclear fission. At the core of the meltdown was drummer John Bonham, whose powerful grooves could cleave the atom. Guitarist Jimmy Page's fingers were so adventurous that even he didn't know where they were going next. And Robert Plant's vocal ability to dial through the octaves was aural nirvana. To document his former band's legendary live prowess, Page spent a year tracking down every film of Zeppelin. With five hours of concert material from 1969 to 1979, hidden extras, and immaculate packaging, this DVD captures rock music at its zenith. - S.H.


Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, music director - Rainbow Body (Telarc): Do you love Aaron Copland's exuberant "Appalachian Spring?" This album surrounds a splendid performance of that classic with three other melodious works by 20th-century American composers. "Rainbow Body," a contemporary piece by Christopher Theofanidis, features a soaring melody based on a medieval chant. Samuel Barber's early "Symphony No. 1" (1937) blends 20th- century edge with classic symphonic form. And Jennifer Higdon's "Blue Cathedral" is an airy delight. These three are Copland's American cousins, and they speak with guileless power. By Gregory M. Lamb

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