Billie Holiday, Mary Cutrufello, Guy B., Betty Buckley, Angie Stone, Emmy Rossum, DJ Roland Belmares & DJ Mike Cruz, Keyshia Cole, Nicole Atkins, Measha Brueggergosman, Emily King, Across the Universe, Grease, Anna Stafford.
Lady Day: The Master Takes and Singles
How can anybody be so bitter, and yet so sweet? Ah, Billie. In this handsome four-CD set, we get Lady Day in a razor-blade smooth collection spanning from when she was a young singer first discovered in 1935, to 1944, when she started to use the hard stuff, and her life and her voice began to crack. Accompanied by copious jazz info and essays in a glossy collectors’ book, this overview of Billie’s best has been remastered to produce the most heartbreaking clear reproductions of the blues diva’s siren songs that we’ve yet to hear. (Although be forewarned, because only Holiday’s Columbia recordings are included, there are strange omissions, such as the absence of “Strange Fruit.”) Holiday was openly bisexual, and among her rumored Hollywood hookups were both Orson Welles and Tallulah Bankhead. Other rumors from this lady who sang the blues: She would hire female prostitutes for what she called a French Kiss, although only one tongue was involved, and it wasn’t Billie’s. • From Columbia/Legacy (www.columbiarecords.com, www.legacyrecordings.com). — Review: Ann Walton Sieber
The growling Miss Mary rocked the 2007 Houston Women’s Festival with selections from this indie production, and rightly so, with winners like the driving “Bring on the Night.” Cutrufello penned all the tunes on this sold collection, except for her strong rendition of Springsteen’s “Take ’em as They Come.” If “I’ll Still Love You Forever” doesn’t break your heart, maybe you don’t have one. www.marycutrufello.com. — Review: Nancy Ford
It’s always a bit worrisome whenever CD art prominently features the artist’s physicality. That said, the openly gay Guy’s perfect torso and butt likely helped land the title track’s video on Logo’s music video rotation. So, enjoy! Self-produced (www.guyb.biz). — Review: N.F.
Even after a Broadway career that has included Cats, for Grizabella’s sake, Buckley’s first album, recorded when she was the 19-year-old former Miss Fort Worth, has only now been released. It is a delight. Among the best of the joyous tracks: a bouncy version of “One Boy,” from Bye, Bye Birdie. Playbill Records (www.playbillrecords.com). — Review: Tim Brookover
The Art of Love & War
Stone addresses all three topics on this largely self-penned CD—sex, politics, and religion—that polite people don’t discuss in public, and she does it right. Her delightful “My People,” with James Ingram, with its surprise ending, should be required listening for everyone with a voter’s registration card. Stax Records (www.anglestoneonline.com). — Review: N.F.
Wisps of The Corrs and Evanescence’s Amy Lee sneak in to many of Rossum’s self-penned selections here, but that’s not a bad thing. This beautifully melodic collection showcases the singer/actor’s soaring tones, peaking with the deeply emotional “Anymore.” Classy. Geffen Records (www.emilyrossum.com). Review: N.F.
DJ Roland Belmares & DJ Mike Cruz
Global Groove: Live 2
For those wishing to polish their circuit party groove in preparation for the White Party, this release is a fine warm-up. Features tasty twists from Debbie Holiday (“Piece of My Love”), Taxi Doll (“Be With You”), and other thumpa-thumpa stars. Centaur (www.centaurmusic.com). Review: N.F.
Just Like You
When you team with Missy Elliot and Li’l Kim for your CD’s very first cut, how can you go wrong? This R&B/hip hop-py release is a full one, with 15 separate cuts including a solid visitation from Diddy on “Last Night.” Geffen Records (www.geffen.com). Review: N.F.
Rolling Stone magazine picked this talented folk/pop artist as one of its Top 10 Artists to Watch, and for good reason. You’ll hear traces of Roy Orbison, Stevie Nicks shining through her sensitive, accurate vocals, especially on the hopeful “Maybe Tonight” and the dramatic “The Way It Is.” Columbia (www.nicoleatkins.com). Review: N.F.
Surprise: Cabaret Songs by Bolcom, Satie & Schoenberg
The biggest surprise here is learning that this woman, with her wearing a trendy leather jacket for the CD cover photo, is an accomplished classical soprano whose audiences have included Queen Elizabeth II and Nelson Mandela. Selections range from the quirky “Toothbrush Time” to more traditional operatic faire. Deutsche Grammophon (www.universalclassics.com/us). Review: N.F.
East Side Story
Somewhat reminiscent of Joss Stone’s youthful vocal sophistication, but hip-hoppier, King’s solid debut album scores, especially with “Walk in My Shoes” and her funky tip of the hat to Bruce Hornsby on “Alright.” Her autobiographical “Colorblind” is both catchy and moving. J Records (www.emilykingonline.com). Review: N.F.
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Across the Universe
Songs written by the Beatles (John, Paul, George, and Ringo) were the inspiration for the fictional love story in the film Across the Universe. You may be familiar with the original versions, but these excellent rearrangements are worth a listen. Features artists Bono and Joe Cocker, among many others. Interscope Records (www.interscope.com). More: www.acrossuniversesoundtrack.com. —Review: Andrea Rodricks
New Broadway Cast Recording
Producers mounting a new production of Grease cast their newest “Sandy” and “Danny” via a televised competition earlier this year. This CD features them singing all the faves that made Grease one of the most successful Broadway musicals in history. Masterworks Broadway (www.sonybmgmasterworks.com) Preview: N.F.
Kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige, Thrice, and even the legendary Steve & Eydie have been backed up by this classically trained violinist. Here Stafford rocks out with a number of original pieces, proving why she’s the one of most in-demand progressive stringed instrumentalist of our time. San Gabriel Music (www.annastafford.com). Review: N.F.