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CD REVIEWS
Reviewed by John F. Konno

SINEAD O' / Faith and Courage
(Atlantic)

SINEAD O'CONNOR / Faith and CourageEveryone's favorite Pope photo-ripping hairless Irish lesbian priest returns after a six year hiatus with, it seems, a newfound lease on life. Faith and Courage is, as one might suspect by the title, an album concerned with spirituality and belief - in God, oneself, love, all that good stuff. Occasionally uplifting, as on the powerful "The Healing Room," it's sometimes a bit sanctimonious, but overall a solid piece of work - thanks in part to big-name producers Dave Stewart, Wyclef Jean and Brian Eno. "Words can't express how sorry I am," she sings, presumably about past indiscretions, and sure hits like "Hold Back the Night" will convince you that she deserves another chance.


k.d. lang / invincible summer
(Warner Bros.)


k.d. lang / invincible summerEveryone's favorite animal loving lowercase lesbian crooner finds herself in a contented, languorous (get it?) mood on this warm, sunny, very likeable album perfect for listening on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It's pretty clear that lang is in love and wants the world to know about it. The mood translates quite well, and it helps that not only does she have some of the best pipes around today and knows how to phrase her vocals in such a seamlessly undulating, pleasing way, but also, unlike, say, Whitney, practices enough restraint that it comes across as genuine rather than annoyingly emotive. And "Curiosity," as remixed by Cornelius, is easily the song of the week.


BECK / Stray Blues
(Geffen)


BECK / Stray BluesIncurable Beckaholics could do worse than to pick up this admittedly low-key collection of b-sides that includes "Burro," a mariachi reworking of "Jack-ass" (from the Odelay LP); the Gary Numan-influenced space rocker "Halo of Gold"; and the pastoral, lovely "Brother," which brings to mind the lovely, pastoral "Nobody's Fault (But My Own)" from his earlier Mutations, a catch-all album on which most of the tracks here would not be out of place. Stray Blues is not even close to Odelay or, for that matter, the recent Midnite Vultures, but as it is being released exclusively in Japan, it might make a good (read: cheap) gift for your hip kid brother back home.


BUSTA RHYMES / Anarchy
(Elektra)


BUSTA RHYMES / Anarchy I have this video of Busta Rhymes jamming with The Roots and, since it's maybe the most electrifying performance I've ever seen, I never lend it out for fear something might happen to it. But if anyone wants to borrow this CD, be my guest. It's hard to believe that all that charisma and obvious lingual talent could add up to something so largely forgettable. Anarchy has a few great cuts, like the awesome "Salute Da Gods!!" and the catchy first single, "Get Out!!" - but even the latter sounds kinda like a ripoff of Jay-Z, while most of this very long album consists of spewed-out apocalyptic prophecy and shout-outs to "my n****z and b*****s" over mostly unimaginative, repetitive samples.

NEIL YOUNG / Silver & Gold
(Reprise)


NEIL YOUNG / Silver & GoldOld man Young is like the longtime friend you're glad to hear from now and then just to find out what he's up to. His 30somethingith record finds Canada's man of the century in sittin'-on-the- porch mode, taking a break from rockin' in the free world to look out at the sunset and reflect on life up till now. Silver & Gold is for the most part a softer, more meditative record in much the same vein as Harvest Moon or Unplugged. Hushed acoustic guitars, harmonica, a subdued rhythm section join Neil's trusty falsetto to make for an informal country jam that might sound good driving home late at night in your pickup truck. Will leave you either bored to tears or simply crying in your whisky.


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