CD reviews: Martin Nievera, Phillip Phillips, Lawson
"3D Tatlong Dekada"
This commemorative collection celebrates Martin Nievera’s 30 years in the music business. The CD contains 17 big ballads, while the DVD has 15 video clips including a duet with Pops Fernandez.
The tracks paint NIevera chiefly as a singer. There are no live performances on either disc and no acknowledgement of his stature as an international performer. Okay, it would take more than two CDs to capture the full measure of "The Man."
Still, the songs and videos offer an overview of Martin Nievera’s career and it’s a wonder how his inimitable voice remains the same in each track.
In today’s music circles, they call it auto-tuned. In Martin’s generation, it was called Talent. Hail to the Chief and forward to the next golden age!
"The World from the Side of the Moon"
2012 "American Idol" champ Phillip Phillips delivers a surprising set of well-crafted songs in his debut. Those who expected the guitar-toting Idol to go country burnished with dollops of pop-rock will be just as thrilled to hear the guy doing well with country-fried pop-rock.
The album unfolds slowly with the country-ish “Man On The Moon” then sprints to the upbeat “Home” and the rousing “Gone Gone Gone.” Midway, “Get Up Get Down” boasts melodies worthy of a toothpaste commercial, with a funky bridge thrown in for good measure. The hot pop streak doesn’t end till the album closer, “So Easy.”
It’s just as easy to hear the album’s minor shortcomings. There’s no escaping the comparisons with Dave Matthews in Phillips’ singing and songwriting style. The production also leans towards Matthews’ folk/country/rock sphere.
With experience, freshman Phillips should be able to give his songs the polish and shape of truly memorable musical pieces.
There’s a faux ‘90s boy band revival going on and Brit foursome Lawson want to be not just the latest contender but also the one with the mostest. Their debut, "Chapman Square," is a sprawl of sounds — ringing guitars, new wave keyboards, dynamic bass lines—that should carry them beyond teen fandom. The active drum work of Adam Pitts keeps the music interesting as the songs take on issues of the heart.
But there’s the rub. The love theme constricts the band from exploring their full potentials. Every song deals with the failure to connect and vocalist Andy Brown is a despondent figure throughout the session. The rest of the band can only provide loping folk rock or easygoing country pop to go with the bittersweet flow.
With "Chapman Square," Lawson could have captured the busy swarm projected by the album title. As it is, the better tunes like “Everywhere You Go” and “Who You Gonna Call?” can best serve as 2 a.m. come-down for 24-hour party people.