Albums

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Pop - Released August 24, 2018 | Columbia

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Souldier is the second LP from French pop singer/songwriter Jain. Composed of bright, jolly acoustic guitar, resonant keys, and positive lyrics, the effort features the title track single. The album was released by RCA Records. ~ Rob Wacey
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Pop - Released March 3, 2017 | Atlantic Records UK

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Pop - Released February 2, 2018 | Panenka Music

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Pop - Released October 5, 2018 | BMG Rights Management GmbH

This 33-track collection brings together some of Katie Melua's finest moments. Included are the U.K. Top 40 singles "Nine Million Bicycles," "Call Off the Search," and "The Closest Thing to Crazy," as well as two newly recorded covers, "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water," which features the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra. ~ Rich Wilson
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Pop - Released December 25, 2018 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

The fact that he knows how to sing almost everything is no big surprise to anyone. And it’s often when he covers another artists' material that Jamie Cullum shines the most. In the great tradition of the great voices of jazz history, the Brit has put together a fairly eclectic repertoire of songs ranging from Mariah Carey to Frank Ocean, Justin Bieber, Lauryn Hill and The Weeknd! “I love learning other people’s songs”, Cullum stated. “It teaches me a lot about writing, which is a big source of inspiration especially when I’m working on a new album, which is exactly what I’m doing at the minute. I strongly believe in the title of writer Austin Kleon’s book: “Voler comme un artiste”. Besides, I often find my best ideas when I’m in someone else’s shoes.” The interest of this collection of covers also comes from the rather clean and sober packaging made by Jamie Cullum himself. No shiny production or sound effects, no, just the deep, elastic voice of a master of groove and swing who is just as in touch with tradition as he is with his own time. © Max Dembo/Qobuz
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Pop - Released January 12, 2018 | Syco Music - Epic

The debut solo album by singer Camila Cabello, the eponymously titled Camila, is a warmly produced set of romantic pop, punctuated by several rhythmically infectious Latin-influenced tracks informed by her Cuban heritage. Notably, Camila comes roughly two years after Cabello's much publicized departure from the all-female pop ensemble Fifth Harmony. While her exit begged some concerns (was she a self-centered diva? Or just a singer with an abundance of personality and creative drive?), the release of several pre-album singles, most notably the deliciously steamy, piano-driven "Havana" (featuring rapper Young Thug), largely turned audiences in her favor. Purportedly, the reaction was so favorable it caused Cabello (who was born in Cuba and raised in Miami) and her producers (Frank Dukes, Jarami, Skrillex, and others) to delay the album's release, adding songs that better reflected the Latin vibe of "Havana." Whatever the case, it worked, and there are several other Latin-inflected songs here, including the sultry, electronica-tinged, dancehall-ready "She Loves Control" and the buoyantly percussive, steel drum-flavored "Inside Out," in which Cabello sings briefly in Spanish. Along with the aforementioned "Havana," these are easily the most potent songs on the album, and showcase Cabello's effusively resonant voice and playful charisma. Admittedly, the album leans a little too heavily on ballads and midtempo acoustic guitar numbers that work against the vibrancy and momentum of the Latin tracks. Still, cuts like the R&B-tinged anthem "All These Years" and the yearning, singer/songwriter-esque "Consequences" are emotionally resonant, lyrical songs that stick with you. There are also some nice upbeat pop moments like the euphoric opener "Never Be the Same," with its falsetto pre-chorus and deftly placed Afro-Cuban drum sample. Similarly engaging is the steamy late-album banger "Into It," in which Cabello wryly coos to her would-be paramour, "Add up the things I wanna do to you, it's infinite/I mean...if you're into it." With tracks as contagious as "Into It" and "Havana," it's hard to imagine even the most resolute Fifth Harmony devotee not getting into it. Ultimately, Camila is a refreshing debut that makes good on Cabello's flight to pop freedom with songs that feel like they were borne out her own life experience and artistic point of view. ~ Matt Collar
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Pop - Released August 17, 2018 | Republic Records

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Ariana Grande never explicitly mentions the bombing at her Manchester Arena concert on Sweetener, the first album she's recorded since that May 2017 tragedy, yet its presence is evident throughout the record. It's there on the opening song, an interpolation of the old Four Seasons song "An Angel Cried," its title suggesting sadness. It's there in the hopeful closer "Get Well Soon," whose gospel turns of phrase play like a benediction. It's there in the percolating "The Light Is Coming," which dismisses darkness. Most of all, it's there in the maturity and focus Grande displays on Sweetener, an album that broadens and deepens the R&B inclinations of 2016's Dangerous Woman. Grande may still find some space for silliness -- witness "Pete Davidson," a minute-long ode to her fiancé which winds up with her repeating "happy" as if it were a mantra -- but Sweetener never seems frivolous. The love songs carry weight, there's gravity in the effervescent re-creations of disco; the sparkling EDM surfaces of "Good Night N Go" coalesce into a sweet romanticism, and the big club beats seem elastic, not rigid. Similarly, Grande never pushes these songs too hard. Instead of favoring vocal pyrotechnics, she demonstrates restraint, which isn't merely an indication of stylistic maturation but how her songs resonate without such tricks. Such concentration doesn't simply result in a stronger set of songs, but an album that coheres in a way other Ariana Grande albums don't, which means Sweetener is something of a double triumph: she's come through a tough time stronger and better than before. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released December 8, 2017 | Blix Street Records

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Pop - Released October 22, 2002 | Columbia

The tracks on this two-CD, 31-song anthology, spanning Cohen's career from his 1967 debut album through 2002's Ten New Songs, were chosen by Cohen himself. It could thus be regarded as an accurate mirror of how Cohen sees his own career path and catalog highlights. And there are many of the songs you would expect from any decent Cohen retrospective: "Suzanne," "Sisters of Mercy," "So Long Marianne," "Bird on a Wire," "Famous Blue Raincoat," and "I'm You're Man," for instance. Still, the balance and selection isn't ideal. There's just one song ("Famous Blue Raincoat") from Songs of Love and Hate, and no songs at all from Death of a Ladies Man. Cohen's 1988-2002 period is arguably overrepresented, with about half of the package's tunes dating from that era. And because his later period is so prominently featured, most listeners won't be able to get around the fact that his voice declined in expressive range in the later years, and his material was less striking than his best early songs. Still, for those who've enjoyed Cohen all along, it's a good dose of much of his better work, and certainly doesn't skimp on the running time, with each of the discs lasting 78 minutes. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Pop - Released October 21, 2016 | Monkey Puzzle Records - RCA Records

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Reflecting her years as a music industry veteran, Sia Furler took a self-aware, practical approach to her return to the spotlight. She recorded her comeback album, 1000 Forms of Fear, to get out of her publishing contract; its acclaim led to This Is Acting, a collection of songs originally written for -- and rejected by -- clients such as Adele, Rihanna, and Beyoncé. As the album title hints, there's more going on here than just recycling. In a way, Furler is acting when she writes songs to fit the images these artists portray, and her own interpretations of them add another layer of theatrical distance. This isn't necessarily a bad thing -- she initially shopped "Chandelier" to Rihanna and Beyoncé before keeping it for herself and imbuing it with the unique frailty that made it a smash hit. Sia's skill at crafting songs full of drama and vulnerability that feel real, no matter how loud they get, is in full force on This Is Acting, particularly its first two tracks. Originally intended for Adele -- another master of huge-yet-genuine-sounding songs -- "Bird Set Free" and "Alive" are filled with wounded empowerment and vocal acrobatics that sound just as powerful (if less bombastic) coming from Sia. Elsewhere, Furler's songwriting is more generic, for better and worse: "Unstoppable" boasts the confidence of a hit single that could belong to any number of divas, but even a presence as compelling as Sia can't elevate "Broken Glass" or the Beyoncé reject "Footprints" above cookie-cutter balladry. Though she returns to the intimate songwriting of her pre-pop career on "One Million Bullets" -- the lone song Furler wrote for herself -- many of This Is Acting's most interesting and successful moments happen when Sia takes on more unexpected roles. A pair of songs intended for Rihanna let her show off a more lighthearted side: The spare, reggae-tinged pulse of "Cheap Thrills" echoes Major Lazer's "Lean On" (yet another song Rihanna rejected), but a backing chorus of what sounds like alien children reinforces that this is a Sia song, while "Reaper" lets her explore a more easygoing version of her seize-the-day anthems. Given that Furler didn't originally plan to make these songs her own, it's impressive that This Is Acting works as well as it does -- only the wannabe banger "Move Your Body" and "Sweet Design"'s flashy, hard-hitting R&B are truly unconvincing. For the most part, however, This Is Acting's meta-pop is another example of how cleverly Sia brings her her experiments into the mainstream. ~ Heather Phares
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Pop - Released June 20, 2014 | Atlantic Records UK

Adopting the old-fashioned route to success by playing a grueling 300 gigs in 2009 alone, Ed Sheeran's blend of singer/songwriter balladry and acoustic hip-hop has built up quite the fan base, ensuring his debut full-length album, simply titled Plus, is one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year. Unfortunately, it's the former, rather than the latter, which dominates the follow-up to his grime-inspired introductory No.5 Collaborations Project EP. Indeed, the unexpected hugely popular response to lead single "The A Team," an achingly tender tale of a heroin-addicted prostitute (think a socially aware James Blunt) seems to have thrown him off course, as rather than pursue the more urban direction that set him apart from his contemporaries, the majority of Plus' 12 tracks feel like self-conscious attempts to replicate its sound. The sparse piano chords and stream-of-consciousness delivery ("I knew you loved Shrek cos we've watched it twelve times") of "Wake Me Up," the gentle percussion and lilting piano hooks of "Small Bump," and the melancholic wistful folk of "This" are all melodic, Damien Rice-esque numbers that would no doubt go down like a storm on one of the many open-mike nights Sheeran used to frequent. But for an artist who has built up a reputation for his inventive fusion of sounds, they are disappointingly back-to-basics affairs which offer little that hasn't been heard before. However, Sheeran is a much more interesting prospect when his unassuming manner is accompanied by an array of skittering hip-hop beats and staccato R&B licks. "You Don't Need Me, I Don't Need You" is a blistering swipe at the music industry which shows that while he may not have the conventional image of a rapper, he certainly possesses the quick-witted attitude; "U.N.I." combines Snow Patrol-esque guitar hooks with a breakneck-speed delivery reminiscent of Craig David's early 2000s output; while some dirty, scuzzy guitars and electronic bleeps are thrown into the mix on "The City," which deals with his experience of moving from his hometown of to the bright lights of London. With his casual jeans and hoodie, and relatable tales of relationship woes, university, and getting drunk, it's easy to see why Sheeran has struck such a chord with the late-teens/early-twenties crowd. But his debut's failure to capitalize on his unique selling point means it's likely to leave everyone else nonplussed. ~ Jon O'Brien

Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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It is impossible to compile a single-disc greatest-hits compilation for Cat Stevens that will come close to satisfying all of his admirers. The Very Best of Cat Stevens is the fifth major attempt to do so and, like its predecessors, it is challenged by its subject's success. Remember Cat Stevens: The Ultimate Collection is the longest of the five (24 tracks) and may be the most comprehensive. But The Very Best of Cat Stevens, released just a year later, has several advantages that make it more appealing. To begin with, it is the only compilation to sequence chronologically songs from every one of Stevens' albums, including the experimental Foreigner. It also contains the delightful folk creed "The Wind," which was a glaring omission from the so-called Ultimate Collection. Most significantly, it contains the previously unreleased "I've Got a Thing About Seeing My Grandson Grow Old." Stevens recorded a demo of the song during the Mona Bone Jakon sessions in 1970, but it never saw the light of day until it was remixed for this collection. Perhaps this was because it was considered too eccentric for public consumption, straddling the line between the hook-rich pop of Stevens' '60s records and the groundbreaking folk-rock of his '70s efforts. If so, the public was vastly underestimated. The song is a buried treasure that fits in perfectly in the company of Stevens' best work. ~ Evan Cater
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Pop - Released June 8, 2018 | Parlophone UK

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Sheezus, Lily Allen’s last album released in 2014, wasn’t really a success. But this didn’t really have an effect on the Brit, who has changed a lot since. Gone are the rock’n’roll black hair, the punk platinum blonde is unleashed! No Shame has a suitable name. Did Allen find her rebel side again to conceive an album centered on herself? The head up high and comfortable with herself, she triggers an emotional bomb, of which she seems rather proud. This autobiographical work tells, from a rather feminist point of view, the story of the separation of her parents, but also of her own, these painful moments after which you’ve got to bounce back. Borrowing African sounds and a hint of Auto-tune, Your Choice introduces a new Lily Allen alongside Burna Boy. You want to dance and shrug as if to say: we’re breaking up but in the end I don’t care. But reality quickly catch up with her. She is touching on Apples, on which she reveals pages from her intimacy. Lily Allen then evokes the memory of her parents’ divorce with her reedy voice on a few accords plastered with extreme simplicity. Then it’s her own she highlights with her desire to not make anyone suffer, that she immediately counters by labeling that a cliché. Twelve years ago, Lily Allen opened the way for female singers full of boldness and rage, but on No Shame, she reminds us that she is their queen. © Clara Bismuth/Qobuz
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Pop - Released June 2, 2017 | Warner Bros.

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Pop - Released August 10, 2018 | Atlantic Records

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Following a four-year-long hiatus, Jason Mraz presents his sixth album. Know remains faithful to the modern and sunny pop folk he’s been known for since his early days. However, this opus is by far his most sincere. After discovering Buddhism in Myanmar, many things have resounded in the mind of the two-time Grammy Award winning singer. Sharing, giving and many other positive thoughts: a myriad of wholesome vibes have influenced Mraz’s creativity. Supported by David Hodges and other long-time collaborators, this new project ventures in an enticing pop direction. A romantic duo with Meghan Trainor on More Than Friends, a dreamy folk ballad with Sleeping to Dream, sensational and catchy pop with Have It All or dancing and rhythmic pop on Might As Well Dance: Mraz is all the rage once again. © Anna Coluthe/Qobuz
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Pop - Released November 3, 2017 | Interscope Records*

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Pop - Released October 13, 2017 | RCA Records Label

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Pop - Released June 4, 2012 | Parlophone UK

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Pop - Released December 1, 2009 | WM UK

Comprised of 18 tracks culled from the singer/composer’s first three decades, The Very Best of Enya was pieced together by the artist herself, along with longtime collaborators Nicky and Roma Ryan. Luckily, the trio seems enamored by most of the same songs that the general public is, resulting in one of those rare “greatest-hits” collections that goes deep without depriving the listener of the essentials. With tunes like "Orinoco Flow," "Caribbean Blue," and "Book of Days" in the pot and out of the way, it’s easier to appreciate hidden gems like "Cursum Perficio," "Boadicea," "Trains and Winter Rains," and "Anywhere Is." Also notable is the inclusion of "May It Be" and a previously unreleased version of "Aníron (I Desire)," both of which originally appeared on the soundtrack for the first chapter of Peter Jackson’s beloved Lord of the Rings trilogy. ~ James Christopher Monger
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Pop - Released February 2, 2018 | RCA Records Label

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Memphis, Tennessee. It’s there that Justin Timberlake was born, on January 31, 1981. A city that you cannot separate from numerous musical revelations, as is often the case in the rest of the South of the United States. This Southern DNA, the former leader of NSYNC claims it partly on Man Of Woods. For example by inviting Chris Stappleton, THE country songwriter of the moment, on Say Something, Justin Timberlake seems to want to take the urban R&B into the dirt and the wide-open spaces. It’s a two-headed approach symbolized by the album cover. Assisted by his old accomplices Timbaland and the tandem Pharrell Williams/Chad Hugo aka the Neptunes, he tries here to merge his synthetic pop full of soul with Southern country. On FutureSex/LoveSounds and The 20/20 Experience, Timberlake had already taken some risks and proved he wasn’t an empty pop icon of the times. Once again here, he intrigues, even if this fifth album seems on the whole calibrated for the charts with titles like Midnight Summer Jam, a disco trip that’s likely to become a hit. The work is probably less ambitious than The 20/20 Experience, but proves once more that the man never rests on his laurels. © CM/Qobuz

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