September is in full swing and some music heavyweights are back in the ring with new albums and singles to enjoy over the weekend. Drake’s latest has met with mixed reviews and it is wrong to suggest that he’s sounding a tad rusty not being on the road performing live over the past 18 months?
Drake: Certified Lover Boy (Release date: 9/3/21, OVO)
The music press is torn about this one and more than a few have tossed “overrated” at the Canadian King of hip-hop calling his latest lazy and all over the place without any real sense of focus. The cover art is a shot at critics for sure and a promise to keep writing songs about girls and the women in his life. There isn’t one true hit on this album and after my initial listen, I found myself gravitating back to older and certainly less popular songs like “Scorpion,” and “More Life” that feel more authentic.
Drake’s music and vibe is often perfect after a really long day at school because it’s not too intense or intellectually challenging; which might be part of the problem. Has Drake lost confidence is his ability to make interesting music versus throw shots at artists like Kanye who clearly occupies a lot of real estate inside his head? With so many Billboard hits, one would think that Drake has developed enough confidence to ignore all of the haters but after listening to this album — I’m not so sure.
It’s also difficult to not address some questionable lyrics on the album on tracks like “Girls Want Girls” and “Fountains” where Drake can’t decide if he’s being funny repeating “farting” or singing “Say that you’re a Lesbian girl, me too…” — a suggestion that is unlikely to appeal to the current generation of young females. Drake can produce better music than this and here’s hoping that he gets his head together and delivers. Download/stream at Amazon.
Bob Marley & The Wailers: The Capitol Session ’73 Live (Release Date: 09/03/2021, Mercury Studios)
Having grown up listening to Bob Marley, I really enjoyed listening to this live set. Marley died in 1981 leaving a huge legacy of music and inspiring a generation throughout his native Jamaica, the Caribbean, and across the world. I’ve been fortunate to visit almost every country in the Caribbean and it’s impossible to go anywhere and not hear his music playing in the tourist areas and tiny shops well away from the cruise ships. British filmmaker, Martin Disney, spent a decade uncovering all of the music and footage of this rare session and it’s well worth the effort for Marley fans.
Baby Queen album: The Yearbook (Release Date: 09/03/2021, Polydor Records)
South African-born artist, Baby Queen (aka Bella Latham) spent most of the COVID-19 pandemic in lockdown living in London, and apparently put all of that free time to good use creating her debut mixtape. Latham sounds very polished already and her pop mixes almost immediately draw comparisons to Lorde and Billie Eilish. She’s not quite there yet but she’s “roll down the windows and drive” ready and surprisingly fresh sounding. Buy at Amazon.
Ed Sheeran: “Shivers” (Release Date: 09/10/2021, Atlantic Records)
Ed Sheeran is definitely an artist in transition. The first two records in my collection were recorded by the British singer/songwriter and he inspired me to pick up the guitar, ukulele, and bango. He began singing British rap on his first album No. 5 Collaborations Project. He went on to create love songs that people now play at weddings. Ever since his last album, No. 6 Collaborations Project, Sheeran has gone very pop and delivered a very different sound that isn’t as well loved by his original fans. His latest single is an example of his musical flip which makes him sound like everyone else and doesn’t feel like him at all. He’s gone MTV and that’s a shame. Pre-order Vinyl Album at Amazon.
Lana Del Rey: “Arcadia” (Release Date: 09/08/2021, Polydor Records)
Lana Del Rey the songwriter has become the voice of a generation by annunciating what many of us feel about the “American Dream” and the world that we live in; one deeply impacted by media, politics, and the superficial trappings of success. Her melancholic style is like a fishing lure that you know you probably should avoid but her ability to mesh romanticism, sex, fame, hip-hop, pop culture, and often ugly side of fame — is the high that we all crave. For better or worse. “Arcadia” is a tribute to the town in California and the first taste from her forthcoming album, Blue Bannisters, that is due on October 29th.