Gloria Estefan
Miss Little Havana
(Crescent Moon Records/Verve Forecast)
Sorry, Gloria, but listening to the first few songs on this CD is like listening to a really boring Fanta commercial. None of these songs can hold a candle to Estefan’s previous hits like “Conga.” The music has a slight Spanish-jazz edge, but it clashes with Estefan’s pop vocals. Perhaps the strangest aspect of the CD is that the breakdowns are actually really good. They are the only decent parts of the first few tracks. She should have made each of those breakdowns into the chorus of most of her songs. The monotonous dance song “Wepa” has two versions, the original and a remix that could not even be saved by the addition of Pitbull. But skip ahead past the horrible first few songs or tune in longer, and you will find a few select gems like “Make Me Say Yes,” “Hotel Nacional,” and “Let’s Get Loud.” My favorite song, however, is “On,” because it is very danceable and even has a Jimi Hendrix-meets-Carlos Santana-style guitar breakdown.
Lalah Hathaway
Where It All Begins
From the rhythmic music to the soulful vocals, Lalah Hathaway should easily please R&B lovers everywhere. She is rhythm and blues to the absolute core. The music’s light, yet extremely skilled drumming combines with smooth blues guitar and a keyboard that is not overused, which is nice. However, Hathaway is not your everyday R&B artist. Her breathy voice is deep, deeper than most, and may be confused for a male’s voice. And it’s also an absolute wonder on the ears. From the first track on this CD, her sixth solo album, the lyrics make it obvious that she is indeed a woman. Most of the songs would be good Hollywood love scenes. Although “making love” music is not a genre, if it were, Lalah Hathaway would fit right in, especially with the song “You Were Meant for Me.” Other notable songs include “You Are My Everything” and “Wrong Way.”

In the Blink of an Eye
(Red Red Records
The emerging new artist and former Junior Vocalist winner on the ’90s TV show Star Search, Katrina is looking for a chance to hit it big. This CD makes a rather obvious attempt to squeeze itself into the mainstream. The album is pop, and Katrina sings it as such. Most of the songs are good, but it is a bit confusing and unnerving that a few of her songs are actually really terrible. Those are also the ones that will probably be chosen to be featured in commercials or movies. It’s as if they attempted the “Hey Mickey” style of teen-pop, but failed miserably. It’s only sad because she has a unique voice and her other songs are really, really good. Hopefully she will become recognized for her more meaningful songs on the CD, like “Shame on Me,” “Closet Full of Love,” and “Krazee Kisses.”
The Fall Down Drunks
13 Shots With the Fall Down Drunks
(No label)
Hailing from the grunge era, these are not your usual country blues, honky-tonk Americana rockers. This Kansas City local, two-man band plays an eclectic mix of folk styles, mixed with shots of whiskey, a pack of cigarettes, and a high-energy attitude. As if their name didn’t give it away, this is beer drinking, hanging out with your closest friends at the local dive bar kind of music. You may be asking, how are they different from any other honky-tonk folk band? Listen and find out. The singer, A.J. Gaither, has a perfect voice for this style of music and he plays an instrument he made himself called the “bucket-bass.” He is accompanied by the quick strumming of the guitarist, Lonnie Letts. These guys don’t even need to be plugged in to start the show. The music is perfectly raspy in all the right areas and it smooths out where it’s needed. It is not uncommon to catch nearby listeners singing along with these catchy tunes over pints of pale ale. Some notable tracks are “Round Here,” “Pushing My Luck,” and “Solace.” To find out more, go to:”

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