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June Album Reviews

SAM SPARRO – Sam Sparro – Island

Gay, Christian, white, soulful – these adjectives all seem to apply to Sam Sparro, the Australian-American whose single Black and Gold was recently a deserved #1 single in the dance charts and is charting #21 in the singles. There’s more captivating electro funk where that came from: his debut album is stuffed with it, some immediate enough to match Black and Gold’s success. Sparro’s bright, brassy sound-beds are the work of someone who has grown up with house and 1980s synth-pop and, to this, he adds a voice that has no business belonging to a white Californian. The influence of Bill Withers and Gil Scott-Heron asserts itself in his supple vocals, to the point where Sick – in which his voice is pared down to an echo – comes as a welcome contrast. On Hot Mess, his falsetto out-Princes Prince, though it has been years since Prince wrote such caustic, concise funk. Sparro could soon be one high-flying bird. – SM

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DONNA SUMMER – Crayons – Sony

Donna’s comeback album is littered with catchy soulful/dance tracks but this one just doesn’t hit the mark. She co-wrote all the 13 tracks, so the gal has more strings to her bow, but it is the Ziggy Marley’s reggae-driven song and title track Crayons that is the pick of the bunch. The follow-up track The Queen is Back, will be a hit on the dance floor. It’s a pity that her distinctive multi-octave trademark voice is so morphed and added with multiple layers. This comeback album descends into more shlock than shine. – TL

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KAT DELUNA – 9 Lives – Sony

If dance is your thing, then this is the album for you. Whine Up (track 5) is already getting the happy campers at The Court buzzing. In fact, everyone cheered when this track came on thanks to the divine one, Ms Feminem! When the DJs have this written into their playlists in pen, you know it’s got gold written all over it. Other singers on this album, Akon and Busta Rhymes add some classy vocals and ensure this dance/hip hop album has an even longer shelf life. – TL

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SMALL MERCIES – Beautiful Hum – Sony

This Bris Vegas four-piece rock band electrifies with their debut album. This album works because the writing is as solid as the production. Producer Matt Wallace has harnessed the energy that this band is noted for. They have also just been given the opportunity to spread more musical joy as the support band for the 17-date Shannon Noll tour next month. Diversity is the key here with an even mix of heavy rock and emotionally smooth ballads; the album never reaches a stage where boredom sets in. This is one band to watch out for. Think Coldplay with extra grunt. Terrific! – TL

***

LEO SAYER – Don’t Wait Until Tomorrow – Universal

At 60, and with no intention of slowing down (Leo will be touring with the Wiggles next year), this master of his craft has given us one of the best laidback albums so far this year. Leo’s voice is never in conflict with the arrangements leaving the lyric of these timeless songs to convey the message. All of his ’70s & ’80s hits are here from the opening track, The Show Must Go On, through to Thunder in My Heart and I Can’t Stop Loving You, my personal favourite. Producer Garth Porter’s (ex Sherbert) expertise in the recording studio is clearly evident as is his deft hand in the arrangements. Constant shifts in rhythms and tempos keep the momentum going on this 12-track recording, but ultimately it’s the man behind the microphone that deserves the wildest applause. This is a must have album. – TL

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