‘I Am Not a Human Being II’ Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne’s I Am Not a Human Being II album opens with a familiar sound – someone’s flicking a lighter. It’s Weezy’s sonic signature, a long-running nod to the weed, women, booze and bravado that has shaped so many of his musical releases, including his latest.
Now on his 10th album, singles like No Worries and the Mike WiLL Made It-produced (Expletives) Love Me suggest that Wayne’s priorities haven’t changed. Luckily for fans, he covers familiar territory with fresh, tweet-worthy punchlines. But if you’re looking for storytelling, look elsewhere. Wayne’s expertise is in lyrical zingers.
Overall, Wayne meets expectations for Wayne these days – not saying much (of substance), but giving listeners plenty to talk about.
– Melanie J. Sims, for The Associated Press
OneRepublic continues to show that the group’s musical rapport is as strong as ever on their third album, Native.
Frontman Ryan Tedder’s falsetto is superb throughout the new offering, which bleeds with emotion and substance. He and his four bandmates are completely in sync.
Tedder, who has written and produced singles for music’s biggest acts, from Adele to Beyoncé, shines with star appeal alongside a variety of instruments that are smoothly intertwined, ranging from the acoustic guitar to drums. The 12-track album is filled with refreshing and catchy songs: That’s certainly evident when the album kicks off with the well-crafted opening track, Counting Stars, and first single, If I Lose Myself, co-produced by hit-maker Benny Blanco.
– Jonathan Landrum Jr., Associated Press
‘Girl Who Got Away’ Dido
Some artists are compelled to stay with a style they’re comfortable with. Others? They’re not shy about ranging into new territory now and then.
Dido? She’s exploring new frontiers, soaking up the sights and sounds, coalescing her experiences, desires and treks into songs on Girl Who Got Away that jump from tart electronica-inspired landscapes to earnest, almost low-key folk-oriented confessions that can be likened to an afternoon coffee klatch for two.
No one could have told me how much I’d miss you, and how soon the world moves on, she sings in Loveless Hearts, her voice an emotional sheen atop a gently rising crescendo of crisp keyboard tones climbing swiftly in time.
It features styles that encompass lush orchestral layouts, darkly hypnotic dance grooves and the clarity of life and all its foibles. It’s an intensely personal album, reflecting Dido’s creative spark while retaining an accessibility that remains fresh, if not vital.
– Matt Moore, Associated Press
‘Based On A True Story’ Blake Shelton
The more Blake Shelton rises in stature, the more he parades his swaggering, mischievous personality. His high-profile role as a judge on NBC’s The Voice has provided a platform for the entertainingly outspoken side of this tall, drawling country boy from Oklahoma. Now Shelton is creating music as brash as he is, fully integrating his colorful character into his songs.
Shelton spent years struggling to establish a consistent presence on the country music charts, never creating a recognizable style of his own. Based On A True Story reveals how much has changed.
The album opens with a hip-hop treatment of the word redneck, traversing Shelton’s cross-interests in the rural and the urban, before blasting into the guitar-driven Boys ’Round Here, about back-country folk who rock out in the cabs of their pickups. The tune sets the tone for Shelton’s focus on boisterous country rock and emotional ballads that show off his expressive vocals as the Country Music Association entertainer of the year rises to his newfound superstar status with a lighthearted but rollicking album that pushes boundaries in all the right places.
– Michael McCall, Associated Press