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Published: Saturday, 8/31/2002

CD reviews: Nash predictably lightweight in first solo album in decade

Nash's first solo album in 10 years is an uneven affair that is predictably slight, given his track record.

One of the original rock icons thanks to his roles in the Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Nash has a musical pedigree that stems from his smooth, distinctive voice and knack for sweet harmonies.

He's also responsible for some of the more maudlin tripe of his age - who rode the creative talents of his partners. “Teach Your Children,” “Our House,” and “Just a Song Before I Go,” are pretty, but they don't say much compared to the songs his peers were writing at the same time.

And that's true of this release, the fourth of Nash's solo career: there's plenty of fluff, but little in the way of weight. The love songs are especially predictable, with such uninspiring, cliched lyrics as “Love knows no reason, love knows no rhyme/so just reach out and I'll be there, time after time.” You'd hope a guy with Nash's experiences would have something more to offer.

The production is pristine and some of the melodies are lovely - “Lost Another One” and “The Chelsea Hotel” - but for the most part, “Songs for Survivors” is remarkable only for its lack of substance.

- ROD LOCKWOOD

The frontman/songwriter for Jason and the Scorchers' second solo set of alternative country has a couple of worthwhile numbers, but is spotty in its dozen offerings - perhaps as the album title inadvertently suggests.

Ringenberg gets some help on each song from a fellow artist or group, most notably Steve Earle and BR5-49. The melodic highlight is “I Dreamed My Baby Came Home,” with Kristi Rose and Fats Kaplin lending a hand.

- KEN ROSENBAUM

Howard is back with writer-director M. Night Shyamalan and the result is another big soundtrack winner: “Signs” is a classical score that appeals with its beauty and tension, as stringed orchestral instruments dart across a serene musical landscape and draw in listeners with an eerie grace.

It does its job of evoking mental images with sound, and will rank among Howard's best.

- TOM HENRY

Unobtrusive western rock and East Indian instruments and sampling create the floor from which Bhagavan Das astral projects vocally. Das is a nada yoga instructor who sings in the mesmerizing kirtan call-and-response style.

He also is spiritual guru to Diamond, a Beastie Boy who weaves short threads of gospel blues and electronic beat into these eight tracks, which are 5 to 11 minutes long. Recommended for world-music fans seeking hypnosis.

- TAHREE LANE

Micro is one of this country's top trance DJs, and on this 12-track disc he blends pounding rhythms with a concentration on melody and a warm ambience.

While trance has developed a harder edge, and a couple of tracks reflect that, this disc remains on the smoother side, with lushly melodic pieces by Spacecorn vs. Artificial, and a remix of Lange featuring Skye's “Drifting Away.”

Overall, the cuts on “Music Through Me” are well-chosen and mixed - and evidence of why trance will still be played long after more faddish styles of dance music are relegated to the discount bins.

- RICHARD PATON

“American Child” probably doesn't have any career-defining singles, but it does have 12 solid songs written or co-written by Vassar. Freshly married, love was obviously on his mind when he put the disc together, and he covers a wide range of emotions.

His piano gives him one of the most distinctive sounds in Nashville, but the use of the fiddle, mandolin, and steel guitar keeps him from straying too far into a pop sound.

There's a good mix of upbeat tunes and ballads, although it's the ballads where Vassar distinguishes himself.

- BRIAN DUGGER

  • 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE, Various Artists (Essential/FFRR) This soundtrack to a movie about the characters and bands involved with the legendary Hacienda Club in Manchester, England, captures the sounds of the '80s, from punk to dance music, and of the city that was to be known as “Madchester.”

    With cuts by the Sex Pistols and the Clash, New Order, Happy Mondays, and Joy Division, the disc well reflects the energy of the scene of that time, and sets the stage for what would follow in rock and dance. R.P.

  • LIFE SQUARED, Mutabaruka (Heartbeat) With the relentless beat of reggae and ska rhythms in the background, poet/writer/actor/radio host Mutabaruka delivers his dub-styled opinions about politics, religion, and cultural shortcomings.

    He hasn't lost any of his lyrical power with his seventh studio album and first since 1994. K.R.

  • ME WITHOUT YOU, Various Artists (Epic) Mostly a collection from the late 1970s and early '80s, this soundtrack offers lesser-known works from the Clash, Depeche Mode, and Adam & the Ants.

    Also included are Sonny & Cher's “I Got You Babe” and a pair of new British singles. T.H.



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