Gordon Lightfoot Book, Music and More!

The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.

Music Review: Paul McCartney - Egypt Station

At 76, Sir Paul could be forgiven if he slowed down and kicked back in his slippers with a nice cuppa. But that’s not Macca’s way. In fact he’s as busy as ever, going viral with James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke and launching another world tour Sept. 17 in Quebec City. On his 17th solo studio album, McCartney sounds still in his prime—feisty, frisky and having fun. The flirtatious “Come On to Me” is a delirious rocker, while “Fuh You,” produced by hitmaker Ryan Tedder, is sexy and infectious. The rest of the album, produced by Greg Kurstin (Beck, Adele), ranges from the Latin jazz of “Back in Brazil” and the bouncy “Happy With You” (about his wife Nancy Shevell) to the cautionary political...

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  2011 Hits

Music Review: Ariana Grande - Sweetener

From its upside down cover photo to the off-kilter music inside, Grande’s fourth album is clearly meant as the ponytailed pop singer’s Mature Artistic Statement. The quirkier tracks come courtesy of singer-rapper-producer Pharrell Williams, of “Happy” fame, while the more straightforward offerings are the work of Swedish hitmaker Max Martin. Grande makes no direct reference to the terrorist attack at her May 2017 Manchester concert that killed 23 people and injured another 500, although one bubbling, infectious Williams number has Grande half-rapping “The light is coming to give back everything the darkness stole.” She addresses her clinical anxiety on “Breathin’” and “Get Well Soon,” the la...

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Music Review: Jason Mraz - Know

Mraz is unapologetically wholesome. He likens his live show to a yoga class. His albums always have at least one song with love in the title. That sunny outlook helped the talented singer-songwriter win two Grammy Awards and sell over seven million albums. But it all went sour when America’s political climate turned toxic. Despondent, Mraz wrote several protest songs that failed to connect and he briefly considered quitting. But a stint on Broadway restored his love of performing and he decided he “could be of more service as the voice of optimism.” Mraz's sixth album is just the right tonic for these dark times. “Love is Still the Answer” is a gorgeous ode to positivity, much like the regga...

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  1615 Hits

Music Review: Cowboy Junkies - All That Reckoning

Canada’s Cowboy Junkies have become one of the world’s most revered bands by whispering while others screamed. The group’s quiet brilliance first gained global acclaim with 1988’s The Trinity Session and the quartet’s subdued rock and country-folk sound has remained remarkably consistent ever since, with occasional segues into noisier moments. On its fine 16th album, the Junkies—singer Margo Timmins, her brothers Michael and Peter and family friend Alan Anton—shift between loud and soft sounds and personal and social subjects. “The Things We Do to Each Other” is a pulsing, politically charged number that warns how fear can easily turn to hate. “Sing Me a Song” is a 1960s-style rocker, comple...

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  1807 Hits

Music Review: Rick Astley - Beautiful Life

The deep-voiced British singer with the high ginger pompadour became a sudden sensation in 1988, when his debut single, the irrepressibly buoyant dance-pop number “Never Gonna Give You Up,” topped the charts in 25 countries. But when the hits dried up, Astley happily retired from music to raise his daughter Emilie with Danish film producer wife Lene Bausager. His return to music eventually resulted in 50, his first album to reach number one in the U.K. since his debut, Whenever You Need Somebody. Now, to prove his 2016 comeback was no fluke, Astley has returned with his ninth studio album. Like 50, each of the new 12 tracks are written, produced and played by the Lancashire-born artist. The ...

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  1835 Hits

Music Review: Florence + the Machine - High as Hope

By now, the world is familiar with the artistry of England’s Florence Welch, the powerful vocalist-frontwoman of the popular indie-rock band that bears her name. She’s partial to laying down her massive, layered gospel voices over soaring orchestral synths and booming percussive flourishes. Less familiar is the more subdued side of the London-born singer. On her band’s fourth album, Welch strips her music back to its bare essentials. “Grace,” a touching tribute to her younger sister, is just piano and vocals. “No Choir,” as the title suggests, also eschews anything but voice and keyboards. There are tracks with lusher instrumentation, including “Hunger,” a confessional about her teenage eati...

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  1412 Hits

Drake - Scorpion

Drake became a global superstar by baring his soul, expressing personal truths about relationships rather than boasting about guns and drugs. His fifth album, named after his zodiac sign, continues the tradition, with the biggest revelation being his admission of fatherhood on two separate tracks. On “Emotionless,” Drake raps: “I wasn’t hiding my kid from the world, I was hiding the world from my kid.” “We only met two times," he says of Sophie Brussaux, the Frenchwoman who’s rumored to be the mother of his son, before expressing angst about being a single parent. Elsewhere, Drake takes aim at his rivals in the hip-hop world on “Survival” and sums up his success on “Sandra Rose” with the lin...

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  1728 Hits

Music Review: Christina Aguilera - Liberation

Uneven albums and a long stint as a coach on TV’s The Voice kept Christina Aguilera from cementing her status as one of pop’s most gifted singers. Now she’s broken free and found her way with this, her eighth album and first in over five years. Mixing hip-hop, reggae and dance elements with her signature power ballads, the 15-track collection is Aguilera’s unwavering statement of independence and self-discovery. Always adept at picking collaborators, she teams up with Kanye West on the infectious “Accelerate” and “Maria” and with Anderson. Paak on the edgy “Sick of Sittin.’” “Right Moves” is a sexy island-flavoured workout, while the Julia Michaels-penned “Deserve” is an anguished r&b co...

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  1475 Hits

Music Review: The Carters - Everything is Love

The essential message of this surprise album by Beyoncé and Jay-Z can be found on the closing track “Lovehappy.” “We broke up and got back together,” raps Jay-Z. “Now we’re happy in love,” replies Beyoncé. The husband-and-wife superstars, who 15 years ago famously proclaimed to be “crazy in love,” have weathered their share of marital discord, as revealed on their Lemonade and 4:44 albums. But Bey and Jay, who was born Shawn Carter, have clearly worked out their problems and these nine tracks celebrate the reconciliation. On “713,” the area code for Beyoncé’s hometown of Houston, her husband calls his wife a “black queen” and raps “you rescued us.” Queen Bey raps more than she sings, shining...

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  1469 Hits

Music Review: Angelique Kidjo - Remain in Light

She’s a groundbreaker, bringing African music into the pop mainstream. Now the Grammy-winning diva has pulled off an impressive feat: taking Talking Heads’ classic 1980 worldbeat album and deepening its essential African-ness, upping the hypnotic polyrhythmic grooves on “Crosseyed and Painless” and turning “Once in a Lifetime” into a joyous carnival celebration.

  1351 Hits