Tha Carter IV |
REVIEWED BY JESSICA HERNDON
When Lil Wayne spouts “Life’s a crazy b—-, Grace Jones/ Mind of genius with a heart of stone” on the opener, “Intro,” he seems to set the stage for an album of clever wordplay and dirty beats. But the New Orleans rapper’s first disc since his release from prison last November turns out to be an underwhelming chapter in his Tha Carter series. Perhaps he lost some of his creative edge during his time away, because he now delivers his lines lazily, only peppers the record with sharp lyrics, and is overshadowed by guest stars including Andre 3000, Nas and Busta Rhymes. Another sign that Wayne is a changed man is the range of topics he addresses; drugs, money and sex give way to jail life (“Blunt Blowin”) and politics (“President Carter”). As for the reasons to be glad he’s back: his sing-growl on the mature summer jam “How to Love,” the sexy “So Special” (featuring John Legend) and the throbbing, Drake-assisted “She Will.”
Ghost on the Canvas |
REVIEWED BY RANDY VEST
This spiritually themed release-melancholy, joyous and bittersweet-is likely to be the final studio album for Campbell, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. But it’s more than just a showcase for his rich tenor and renowned guitar-picking. On the album’s most outstanding track, the guts-baring ballad “Strong” (featuring the Dandy Warhols), a vulnerable Campbell admits: “As I look into these eyes I’ve known for all these years/ I see for the first time in my life, fear.” Other notable cuts include the reflective “Nothing but the Whole Wide World” (penned by Jakob Dylan) and the glorious title tune, which boasts soaring strings reminiscent of Campbell’s halcyon days.
The Merry Goes ‘Round
REVIEWED BY IVORY JEFF CLINTON
Two years after Lullaby, her soothing set of children’s songs-and a month after the birth of son Kase-Jewel delivers a kid-oriented release featuring enough folk and bluesy rock to please parents. The most fun moments are the horn-driven, New Orleans-flavored “Supermarket Song” and the rockabilly jaunt “Play Day.” Other standouts, like the uplifting “Give Me the Rainbow” and the holiday favorite “My Favorite Things,” show that kid-friendly music needn’t be all child’s play.