Album reviews: The Weeknd, Toni Braxton, Chris Smither – Post

April 9, 2018 - Fifty Shades of Grey

The Weeknd

“My Dear Melancholy”

(XO Republic ***)

Back before he was soundtracking “Fifty Shades Of Grey,” headlining Made in America and dating Selena Gomez, The Weeknd was mysterious, scary and weird. Specifically, with a 3 mixtapes a eccentric Canadian adore male expelled in 2011 that were after collected as “Trilogy,” he done darkly recurrent and always contorted strain that was massively successful on contemporary RB. Over a years, however, The Weeknd’s strain mislaid a refinement as he grew unashamed in his courtship of a mainstream. “My Dear Melancholy” is of note since it’s a dissection manuscript abundant with references to his separate from Gomez, and since wearing unhappiness on his sleeve has nudged him behind toward creation strain that is eventually some-more appreciative precisely since it isn’t so fervent to please. Another good thing about it: Like Diplo’s new refreshingly brief “California,” “MDM” is indeed an EP, and during usually 6 songs and 22 minutes, a self-pity doesn’t have time to grow cloying. Expect to see some-more big-name acts putting out between-album, less-than-full-length works, as courtesy spans cringe and streaming services inspire artists to be some-more artistic in how they recover music. — Dan DeLuca

Toni Braxton

“Sex Cigarettes”

(Def Jam ***)

Twenty-five years into a career of emotive, hazed vocals held in a whirling winds of quiet-storm soul, Toni Braxton seems to have finally outpace marital problems, uncanny boyfriends-turned fiancés (Birdman?!), health scares and existence radio array to furnish a overwhelming work that rivals her ’90s best. As a matter of musty fact, “Sex Cigarettes” sounds a lot like a sister manuscript to 1996’s “Secrets,” that contained a pound grand ballad, “Un-Break My Heart.”

That’s really mostly a good thing when “Sex Cigarettes”’ sirens come to call. The dynamics-rich chord changes and lush arrangements of a slow-jamming “Long as we Live,” and a album’s pretension balance sound of another epoch — one where refinement and complexity still existed on a charts. On those boisterous cuts, as with her piano ballad “FOH,” Braxton is ruminative and angry, and we can hear it by each breath. What creates “FOH” opposite is that she’s utilizing a banking of internet jargon to get her forked madness across. Where Braxton’s ’90s-isms don’t work — for instance — is on smaller, some-more poppy songs such as “My Heart,” an peculiar partnership with songwriter Colbie Caillat that never truly or deeply delves into a sorcery of that muscle. Still, any possibility to hear Braxton run by a cocky verse such as “I wish that we could like you, my feelings are frank / But each time we try to, it kinda disappears” is flattering cool. — A.D. Amorosi

Chris Smither

“Call Me Lucky”

(Signature Sounds ***)

“It all comes down to a sound,” Chris Smither sings. “And when we can’t find a pivotal / Spin it around on a common belligerent / Till it sounds like me.”

“Down to a Sound” might be about a component energy of music, though one thing’s certain: The strain and a rest of “Call Me Lucky” sound like Chris Smither, that means they don’t sound utterly like anyone else. Over his prolonged career, a 73-year-old folk-blues good has crafted a character in that he manages to philosophize and tackle low subjects in a approach that flows as fluidly as his guitar personification and a strain that accompanies him. For a many partial it’s an understated and infrequently farcical conversational character that showcases a skilfully interesting approach with words: “I wrecked my kismet livin’ approach too quick / Tryin’ to locate a destiny ‘fore it’s in a past,” he confesses on a slide-accented “The Blame’s on Me.” And listen to his down-home outline of only how tough it is to “Change Your Mind.”

Smither offers an choice take of “Everything on Top” — one of a handful of songs in dual versions — that is uncharacteristically shrill and rocking on a mostly acoustic-textured set dappled with piano and fiddle. But with Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene” and a Beatles’ “She Said She Said,” he also delivers remarkably Smither-ized interpretations of clearly manifold songs that make them of a square with his possess still-transfixing and thought-provoking work. — Nick Cristiano

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