Dig These Discs :: Noisettes, Now Club Hits, Will Saul, Barbra Streisand, N’dambi

by Padraic Maroney

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday October 14, 2009

Like the old saying goes, if you don't succeed there is always someone coming up from behind to take your place, whether it's today's hot club music act or the staying power of a legendary diva over the last 50 years. Seeing a legendary producer teaming up with a singer on the rise and a British trio that is on verge of breaking out just proves the point about how tricky it is when you're trying to stay on top.

Noisettes - Wild Young Hearts

The Noisettes are back with their second album. Wild Young Hearts is fun and spunky, like candy for the ear.

The group eases listeners into "Wild Young Hearts" by with the short title track, but then the album peaks early with "Don’t Upset the Rhythm (Go Baby Go)."

The album then begins to weave and wiggle between genres, with lead singer Shingai Shoniwa sometimes sounding like the heir to Macy Gray’s fan base, while other times she sounds like a more coherent version of Amy Winehouse.

The trio balances the frothy pop songs with the more heartfelt ballads like "Atticus." Not many slow jams are included on the album, which is good, because the group’s strengths are in the more uptempo tracks.

Various Artists - "Now..." Club Hits

As has become customary for the "Now That’s What I Call..." hits series, the Club Hits compilation takes a collection of some of the biggest radio hits and brings them into a one-stop shop for listeners.

Since this is the club hits version, they have put a weak club beat behind the selections, but the songs are only somewhat adequately segued into one another.

With superstar artists like Katy Perry, The Black Eyed Peas, Sean Kingston and Lady Gaga providing the set with their already dance floor friendly hits, there wasn’t much work that to be done to compile the songs.

Some of the tracks required more work for their remix, like Pink’s "Please Don’t Leave Me." But the backing beats are still midgrade.

With remixes becoming so readily available, it’s not enough to just throw together a collection of tracks that are mid-level and offer nothing new. Rather than supplying the Dave Aude Radio Edit remix, which doesn’t sound much different, giving listeners the remix Gaga did with Marilyn Manson would have been a better choice.

But if originality isn’t your cup of tea, and you prefer the tried and true, then this is what you would call a perfect set.

Will Saul - Balance

There isn’t much balanced about Will Saul’s three-disc collection Balanced.

Well, except that it is balanced in terms of the music offered among the three albums. With each of the albums chock-full of music, the DJ does what the Now That’s What I Call Club Hits compilation couldn’t do; he makes the songs flow from one to the next.

Of the trio of albums, it’s the third one that is the best. None of the albums are overly tantric, but rather he keeps the mood at the same level. You won’t find yourself jumping back and forth based on how the song’s beat rate varies.

Barbra Streisand - Love is the Answer

Barbra Streisand is back with a new album. Love is the Answer marks her first album of new solo music since 2003’s The Movie Album.

Streisand is following the same pattern here, but rather than doing music that famously appeared on celluloid, the legendary singer is putting her own spin on jazz standards and classics.

Included among the collection are "If You Go Away (Ne Me Quite Pas)," "A Time for Love," and "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most."

She gets the most out of the songs, but many of them have been sung so many times--and there are only so many ways to sing them--that it’s hard to not feel like it’s been done before.

Streisand is one of the few singers who actually might get better with age. Unlike some, she acknowledges her age and the age of her fanbase by moving into the adult contemporary and standards category.

But her voice holds up as well as on any of her other albums. On Love is the Answer, the singer creates a mellow, laidback feeling that makes it that more inviting for listening to feel the love.

N’Dambi - Pink Elephant

On Pink Elephant, singer N’Dambi creates a neo soul collection that is worth listening to for its richness of depth and the use of N’Dambi’s natural talent. There is no sign of vocal correctors on the album; everything you hear is co-written and naturally sung by the artist.

One of the common themes addressed by the album are deceit and abandonment. Between the obviously titled "Imitator," and the story of a man living a double life is on display in "L.I.E.," N’Dambi is in full storytelling mood on the album with these songs.

Much like the similarity between Vanilla Ice’s "Ice, Ice Baby" and Queen’s "Under Pressure," N’Dambi offers an only modest alteration on the tempo and beat that was previously done by Hooverphonic on "2Wicky" for the song "The One."

Helping the singer out on the album is Leon F. Sylvers III as producer. Sylvers has worked with many of the biggest acts from the 70s, including Gladys Knight and The Fifth Dimension.