Album review overview 2023 week 31

Every week dozens of new albums arrive at the editors of Maxazine. Far too many to listen to them all, let alone review them. One review every day ensures that too many albums are left behind. And that’s a shame. That’s why every Sunday we publish an overview of albums that arrive at the editors in short reviews.

Joshua Ray Walker – What is it Even

After three albums of his own work, up-and-coming country star Joshua Ray Walker has now released a somewhat separate album. On ‘What is it even’ he has recorded 11 well-known songs by female artists, in his own way. At first, you might think that the album is intended as a parody, but that turns out not to have been the intention. However, when you hear Lizzo’s “Cuz I Love You” as the opener in Walker’s hysterical gospel version, you have to come from a good family to hold back your laughter. Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” also gets a good makeover. It may just be me, but I can especially like a country version with a soul wind arrangement. The fact that Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares to U’ is also on it unintentionally gives the album something of topicality. This album is for the curiosities department. (Jan Vranken) (6/10) (Soundly Music)

Girl Ray – Prestige

Girl Ray consists of three young women: Poppy Hankin, Iris McConnell and Sophie Moss. They met at the University of London and started making music together. Their music is a mix of indie pop, rock and folk. On this new, second album “Prestige” they emphatically add, and with a big smile, seventies disco to their idiom. Girl Ray is a band that isn’t afraid to show themselves. They’re not perfect, but that’s what makes them so much fun. Their music is cheerful, energetic and honest. Girl Ray is a band that puts and keeps you in a good mood. So no musical or artistic highlights on this album, but almost three-quarters of an hour of nice disco, which can heat up any house party. If you’re looking for a band that makes you laugh, dance and think then Girl Ray is definitely recommended. (Jan Vranken) (7/10) (Moshi Moshi Records)

The Maine – The Maine

The Maine is an American rock band from Arizona, which has been working for 15 years now and has managed to attract a large number of loyal fans. If you wanted to label the band, you would end up with a peppered version of Death Cab for Cutie or maybe something more like Third Eye Blind, but with a more modern sound. The album sounds energetic and promises a lot for live shows, this is really sick that you have to experience live. “Leave in Five” is the song with the most potential on this album. Also great on the car radio. Really an album if you want to try something different. Do it. You will not regret it. (Jan Vranken) (7/10) (Photo Finish Records)

Bob Marley & the Wailers – Africa Unite

Sure, Bob Marley hasn’t been with us for over 40 years, but he will forever be the greatest reggae musician, there’s no doubt about that. By now, all audio that was still there of his music will have been released. Nevertheless, an interesting new album has now been released. On “Africa Unite”, 10 of his iconic songs get a remake in the form of collapses with African artists. In addition, the sound has been greatly polished, making the tracks sound wonderfully fresh and contemporary. Once again proof that Marley’s music is timeless. In addition, it is of course great to offer African artists a great stage in this way. “Redemption Song” for example, here in a duet with South African singer Ami Faku, is completely up to date again, and fake deserves attention. Classic “Three Little Birds” also gets a makeover, together with Nigerian singers Oxlade and Teni. The best collab on this album is the one with the Nigerian dancehall king Patoranking. “One Love” can go back into the hit parade without pain. What a fun project, let the sun come out again! Bob Marley truly has eternal life. (Jan Vranken) (8/10) (Universal Music)

Hello Yello – Good Intentions

Guitar, drums, bass and vocals and yet so broad, hip and fresh. So it’s possible. With “Good Intentions” the band from Cali delivers their sixth album and this is certainly their best so far. Do not expect technically advanced recordings and freaking, but wonderful open music that is undoubtedly best played live. No earth-shattering music, rather unpretentious and fun. That’s refreshing these days, we’ve come this far. “Curiosity” blasts out of my laptop speakers with so much pleasure that I just put it on again, while I’m cooking an egg while dancing. (Jan Vranken) (6/10) (Own production)

Rick Springfield – Automatic

The name Rick Springfield is of course linked to the classic “Jessie’s Girl” until the end of time. That was in the early eighties when he travelled from Australia to the United States to make it. So the man still makes music. His last album is from 2018 or 2019, and now he’s back with “Automatic”. After listening to no less than 20 new tracks, the title appears to be surprisingly well chosen. The album contains bloodless, quite automated soft rock with a pinch of West Coast sound as he has been doing for years. This music will still do just fine on a cruise for retirees with Rick Springfield himself. After dinner, you can go ballroom dancing here or something. And it’s a pity because you can hear from everything that he can do much better. Came across the wrong producer somewhere or maybe he just started doing it himself. His older fans will buy it anyway. Springfield knows, so maybe it’s laziness. Anyway, fast forward: bye bye. (Jan Vranken) (4/10) (Songvest Records)

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