Operatic pretty boys Il Divo return.
Etta James, The Dreamer*** SOUL
After a career of more than 50 years, an ailing Etta James says she's hanging up the mike. But this final album — a batch mostly of vintage R&B classics, recorded in 2008 — is a raw, emotional reminder of why she endured for so long. She puts her soul stamp on everything from the simmering Cigarettes & Coffee (Otis Redding) to the hard-rocking Welcome to the Jungle(Guns N' Roses). The works of Ray Charles, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Johnny "Guitar" Watson and others get similar treatment, assuring that James won't bow out quietly. — Steve Jones
>> Download: Groove Me, In the Evening, Misty Blue
Joe Nichols, It's All Good
Joe Nichols sings with such easygoing confidence that he can create the illusion of substance with even the lightest-weight song. All by itself, his sly baritone is far more suggestive than the playful double entendre in his latest single, Take It Off. Really, his voice is made for more meaningful pursuits, like reflecting on mortality inHow I Wanna Go, but even when he doesn't get material that good, he'll make it sound like something special. — Brian Mansfield
>> Download: How I Wanna Go, Take It Off
David Lynch, Crazy Clown Time
The Wizard of Weird launches his solo musical debut with a few tracks offering melody, rhythm and mood, gets sidetracked for a long time by that warped, arty/dreamy thing he does visually in his films, then works his way back to plodding but tolerable background music. Lynch wrote the 14 songs, and sings and plays guitar (both often heavily distorted). The man knows edgy music — check out his collaborations on the Twin Peaks and Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse projects — but solo, he hasn't yet found a satisfying style. — Jerry Shriver
>> Download: Pinky's Dream, Good Day Today, These Are My Friends
Il Divo, Wicked Game
*½ OPERATIC POP
*½ OPERATIC POP
Simon Cowell's pretty boys with pretty voices overhaul and overwhelm pop and classical material with typical melodrama and soulless technical prowess. The polished foursome, singing in English, Spanish and Italian, has moments of power and vocal beauty, but they drain Falling Slowly of its tender ache and homogenize Chris Isaak's spooky Wicked Game.Dov'è L'amore, an ill-advised interpretation of Samuel Barber's exquisitely sadAdagio for Strings, should have been left to the string section. — Edna Gundersen
>> Download: Stay (Ven A Mi), Sempre Sempre
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