$20 million still can’t buy Will Smith respect, but Tracey Thorn’s remixes more than satisfy
‘Lost and Found’, Interscope
On his ninth CD, Will Smith takes on the intersection of Hollywood and Philadelphia as if jovially taking on another amiable movie role. Mostly, it’s business as usual.
The stutter-tronic ‘Switch’ is the party track.In accordance with hip-hop law, Snoop Dogg appears. ‘Here He Comes’ features a patented Smith sample gleaned from our childhood, the SpiderMan TV cartoon theme, with chunky beats by ex-partner Jazzy Jeff.
Big Willie makes merry about getting dissed by Eminem, blabbing happily about getting reamed by rap radio. So what, right? With more than one reference to making ‘20 mil’, you can’t help but think that Smith is giggling all the way to his broker.
But listen harder. Smith ain’t feeling quite so jiggy.
‘Sometimes y’all mistake nice for soft, so before I go off…’ spits Smith on ‘Mr. Niceguy’, taking on haters through bucking rhythms with the sort of veiled threats his Shark Tale co-star Bob De Niro usually proffers. When not busy taking the offensive on being defensive, Smith wails on religious hypocrisy, star-stalkers, and the rap game’s relentless copycatting (from Smith, yet, goes the boast of the title track) with a sneer to match his cheer.
Reviewed by A.D. Amorosi
Everything But the Girl
‘Adapt or Die (Ten Years of Remixes)’, Atlantic/Blanco y Negro
Someday, perhaps, there’ll be a new Everything But the Girl album. Until then, aficionados of Tracey Thorn’s smoky, sensual purr of a voice will have to settle for this delicious set of remixes.
To recap: Vocalist Thorn and guitarist (and now DJ) Ben Watt emerged from Britain as a haircut band in the 1980s, then suavely evolved into masters of chilled-out electronica after Todd Terry’s remix of ‘Missing’ became an international hit in 1995. ‘Adaptor Die’ gathers a decade’s worth of reinterpretations of the duo’s fetching pop songs, with DJ Jazzy Jeff and King Britt among the knob-twiddlers, along with Terry, Adam F, Brad Wood and others.
It works perfectly, with Watt and Thorn’s compositions – plus a seductive version of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Corcovado” – reinvented but not unrecognizable, and Thorn’s soulful, contemplative vocals leaving you yearning for more.
Reviewed by Dan DeLuca
“Sean Costello”, Artemis
Though he started out as a precocious blues-guitar hotshot – releasing his first album at 16 and backing fellow up-and-comer Susan Tedeschi before he was 20 – Sean Costello seems more interested in emulating Eddie Hinton than Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Hinton was the great Muscle Shoals session guitarist who was also a superb singer and songwriter. Like the late Hinton, the 25-year-old Costello has a soulfully rough-hewn voice and is mostly content to make his guitar one element of a taut, earthy R&B sound.
Here he covers Al Green and Bob Dylan, among others, but for the first time he focuses on originals. From the punchy soul of ‘No Half Steppin’’ and ‘Hold on This Time’ to the roadhouse urgency of ‘I’ve Got to Ride’ and the anguished balladry of ‘Don’t Pass Me By’, Costello shows that his lyrical are catching up to his formidable musical talents.
Reviewed by Nick Cristiano