New albums: Roy Orbison; Pusha T; Cam
Roy Orbison is one of rock and roll's great vocalists, but after his first decade of hits such as "Oh Pretty Woman," "It's Over," and "Running Scared," he was out of place in the marketplace. Now - to coincide with the 11-album set The MGM Years, 1965-1973 - comes a separate, previously unreleased record from 1969, One of the Lonely Ones.
One of the Lonely Ones
nolead ends Roy Orbison is one of rock and roll's great vocalists, but after his first decade of hits such as "Oh Pretty Woman," "It's Over," and "Running Scared," he was out of place in the marketplace. Now - to coincide with the 11-album set The MGM Years, 1965-1973 - comes a separate, previously unreleased record from 1969, One of the Lonely Ones.
The album followed a dark period in Orbison's life. He had lost his first wife in a motorcycle accident in 1966, and he lost two sons in a house fire in 1968. On the other hand, 1969 was also the year he married German teenager Barbara Jakobs.
Orbison sings with his instantly familiar drama, vibrato, and power, and the album is full of sadness and heartbreak, in excellent songs such as "You'll Never Walk Alone," "Sweet Memories," and the title track. But it is marred by some silliness (the Four Seasons-like "Laurie") and some frankly disturbing songs of lust and desire such as "Child Woman, Woman Child," "Give Up," and "Little Girl (In the Big City)."
David Lynch's use of Orbison's early hit "In Dreams" in Blue Velvet highlighted the subtle, unsettling tension in Orbison's music, but some of One of the Lonely Ones is creepily overt.
- Steve Klinge
nolead begins Pusha T
nolead ends nolead begins Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude
nolead ends nolead begins (Def Jam/GOOD Music/Re-Up **)
nolead ends Pusha T's second album examines America's dark side, individually and as a society. "M.F.T.R.," featuring Dream, delves into the desire to be more famous than rich, with artists making bad business decisions for the sake of stardom - even if it's temporary.
This leads into "Crutches, Crosses and Caskets," which Pusha has said represents how he sees the rap game: "Crutches, crosses, and caskets, all I see is victims. / Rappers is victimized at an all-time high, but not I."
For the most part, it's difficult to stay focused on this album. There's a sameness. One track and set of lyrics bleeds into the next. But one standout and likely favorite is "Sunshine," featuring Jill Scott. On that track, Pusha tackles the onslaught of police-related deaths while pointing out it's nothing new.
He raps, "They'll never rewrite this, the way they rewrote history." Ending the album with that track, which is a call for a miracle, lives up to the album's title. There is a dark side, and Pusha thinks we're getting too caught up.
- Sofiya Ballin
nolead begins Cam
nolead ends nolead begins Untamed
nolead ends nolead begins (Arista Nashville/RCA ***1/2)
nolead ends Before the release of this debut album, Cam had already drawn attention for its single "Burning House," which has earned her a Grammy nomination for best solo country performance and is the only 500,000-selling country single released by a woman in 2015.
Untamed pays off on the promise of that song. It's pop-country at its finest, a canny mix of pungent rootsiness and pumped-up radio accessibility. The appeal of the music matches that of Cam herself (real name: Camaron Ochs), who cowrote all 11 songs.
She comes across as vibrant, intelligent, and without affectedness, whether she's displaying a Miranda Lambert-like scrappiness on "My Mistake" and "Country Ain't Never Been Pretty," or expressing the tender regret of "Burning House," one of the album's quietest moments.
"I'm blond but I ain't stupid," Cam declares amid the down-home wisdom of "Half Broke Heart." By the time she delivers the line - it's on Track 8 - she has made that abundantly clear.
- Nick Cristiano