CD reviews: Acoustic Sabrina, punky Avril

Posted at 01/26/14 1:30 PM

"I Love Acoustic 6"

Turning the likes of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” and Lady Gaga’s “Payphone” into acoustic ditties and producing albums that have become multi-platinum successes in most of Southeast Asian countries, Sabrina shows she’s made of durable stuff. She renders her acoustic make-overs in a twee voice that spans the yearning of Kitchie Nadal, the sprightly cadence of Barbie Almalbis and the discipline of Rachelle Ann Go.

On the sixth edition of her "I Love Acoustic" franchise, Sabrina once more hops musical genres uncovering the acoustic goldmine in David Guetta’s “Titanium,” Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” and Katy Perry’s “Roar.” She also collaborates with King Pichet from "The Voice of Thailand" and N’Oil from "Voice Kids Thailand" in keeping with her work with other Asian artists in previous albums.

Sabrina’s best and most moving track on her latest album is “Paradise,” her own composition which won’t be out of place in classic baroque pop albums such as The Beatles’ “Revolver.” Her apprenticeship re-doing other people’s songs pays off in a killer self-penned ballad that’s wistful and hopeful in its fervent wish to fly to a better tomorrow.

On her own terms and given her newfound confidence to express herself, Sabrina is a formidable force in the current wave of OPM artists.


John Mayer
"Paradise Valley"

On the opener “Wildfire,” John Mayer appears to let his hair down dabbling in loose-limbed guitar-driven country pop, and then follows it up with the country-blues of “Dear Marie” flecked with pedal steel slides like an old Poco outtake. His third offering recalls James Taylor in the mid-‘70s except that Mayer has a more commanding voice than Sweet Baby James.

In later tracks, our man shifts to his soulful side in duets with Katy Perry and R&B sensation Frank Ocean. He acquits himself beautifully with a rollicking version of J. J. Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze” that should earn raves in blues clubs and bistros hereabout.

In short, John Mayer seems presently stuck between his earlier blues rock foray (The John Mayer Trio) and much earlier pop-rock triumphs (i.e. from “Your Body Is A Wonderland” onwards). The songs he sings these days deal with troubled ex-girlfriends and the perils of the rock star life. Mayer may sound out of his league in his latest indulgence but it’s a modest feast that every true fan of good music will relish.


Avril Lavigne
"Avril Lavigne"

Married with kids and almost 30 years old, former pop-punk princess Avril Lavigne isn’t exactly the role-model mom to be singing about “Bitchin’ Summer,” “17” or “Here’s To Never Growing Up.”

Yet, she kicks up such a wild ruckus starting with the appropriately titled “Rock And Roll” on to “Bad Girl” (with goth mutant Marilyn Manson by her side). There are slow numbers along the way and they are merely cruising moments for the ramp up to the final lap. Avril and company, who include two Norwegian studio geeks, keep the punk-pop engine running from the get-go.

Unless you’re a chronic curmudgeon or had the pleasure of listening to say September Girls or Dum Dum Girls, bad girl Avril Lavigne is a satisfying alternative to poseurs on the hit parade.


Rod Stewart

This extremely enjoyable collection highlights recordings that never showed up on Rod Stewart’s early LPs. It’s crammed with alternate takes of his better known songs (“Maggie May,” “Seems Like A Long Time”), and surprise versions of other people’s compositions (Elton John’s “Country Comforts,” Carole King’s “Oh! No Not My Baby”).

The obvious reason is to tell new fans that Rod The Mod sang about real blues and aches long before his most recent renaissance with "The Great American Songbook" series. He paid his dues and in his younger days, he was as much a part of the UK blues community as its more prominent icons like Eric Clapton. Listen and marvel at that great full throaty voice!