Billboard CD reviews: Kylie Minogue, Dierks Bentley
ARTIST: KYLIE MINOGUE
NEW YORK (Billboard) - "Dance/It's all I wanna do," Kylie Minogue tells us on "All the Lovers," the opening track of her 11th studio album, "Aphrodite." And with electronic specialist Stuart Price (Madonna, Seal) at the helm as executive producer, she never leaves the floor. The new set casts a spell with Price's signature preternatural touches, Minogue's breathy chirp and the hooky melodies of a varied crew of dance pop-focused songwriters and producers. The Nervo twins (who co-wrote David Guetta and Kelly Rowland's "When Love Takes Over") contribute the track "Put Your Hands Up," a similarly ecstatic ode to love. DJ/producer Calvin Harris and Scissor Sisters vocalist Jake Shears go for broke on "Too Much" with a fugue of synths and disco-rific sampled strings. And "Cupid Boy" matches Minogue's lusty delivery with the hisses and pulses of Sebastian Ingrosso's after-hours DJ sets. Price's ability to create a consistent sound without sacrificing each track's individuality makes the journey cohesive, fun and fitting for a goddess.
ARTIST: DIERKS BENTLEY
ALBUM: UP ON THE RIDGE (Capitol Nashville)
The surest way to scare country radio programmers is to hand them something that puts the genre's roots in the storefront window. If that's true, then Dierks Bentley's latest album, "Up on the Ridge," is the aural equivalent of an encounter with Freddy Krueger. The title track/lead single has been warmly received, but the rest of the album is entirely too rootsy for broad appreciation by the country programing community. But for lovers of contemporary bluegrass and country music's Appalachian roots, "Up on the Ridge" is a thrilling ride from start to finish. Jamey Johnson and Miranda Lambert seamlessly blend their renaissance talents with Bentley's on the song "Bad Angel," while Kris Kristofferson's world-weary vocals bring added depth and authenticity to the down-and-outer anthem "Bottle to the Bottom." And the standout track is the gripping coal-mining ballad "Down in the Mine." It's unlikely that country radio will champion this album, but somewhere in the great beyond, Bill Monroe is smiling approvingly.
ALBUM: SHOUT IT OUT (3CG Records)
Long before the first Jonas Brothers album hit the shelves, another sibling trio reigned supreme. Hanson brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac may still be widely known for their playful 1997 pop hit, "MMMBop," but the trio's fifth studio album, "Shout It Out," shows that the group continues to expand its musical roots. A colorful set that pays tribute to the funk, soul and R&B musical influences that shaped its sound, "Shout It Out" has a sunnier vibe than the group's 2007 predecessor, "The Walk." Hanson achieved this partly by tapping horn arranger Jerry Hey (Michael Jackson; Earth, Wind & Fire) and Funk Brothers bassist Bob Babbit, who played on many Motown classics. But for all its sunshine, "Shout It Out" still breaks into emotional territory with piano ballads like "Use Me Up" (featuring Zac on lead vocals), while Taylor's windy tenor shines on "Carry You There." From the profoundly upbeat single "Thinking 'Bout Somethin'" to the heartfelt and introspective closer "Me Myself and I," "Shout It Out" is a fun listen that beams with genuine talent and creative artistry. Continued...