As someone who's long been a fan of the book, to see 'The Giver' movie finally come to fruition has been quite the nostalgic trip. Headed and ended by OneRepublic and featuring rising stars such as Tori Kelly ('Silent'), Capital Cities ('One Minute More') and other solid up-and-comers in the music industry, 'The Giver: Music Collection' has a perfect mix of superstar power and the flair of still-indie but progressively more mainstream acts to inspire confidence in its pedigree. But is that confidence warranted?
One Republic's first track 'Ordinary Human' has a pleasant synthetic backing and uplifting, optimistic lyrics that, with a certain "sci-fi" vibe, is reminiscent of Muse combined with the nouveau-disco feel common to contemporary popular music. 'One Minute More' plants the album more firmly in the territory of contemporary pop-rock with a light, airy and upbeat tone alongside, again, positive lyrics, and some interesting mid-paced synth. From there we go into the only female vocals on the album with Tori Kelly's 'Silent', which is a competent acoustic guitar song with a country twang. Where 'Silent' takes that distinct country flavor, 'Feel What's Good' by Jake Bugg brings in a dash of classic rock in some electric guitar. It's not strictly acoustic, of course, but it maintains a certain soulful element to its lyrics that resembles that of more acoustic and instrumental music. Bruno Major's 'Children' is more stripped down, its lyrics taking center-stage over a lightly strumming guitar.
Rixton's 'Whole', oddly enough, sounds more like a OneRepublic song than the actual OneRepublic. The music seems unnecessarily slow to the point of lethargy. However, Rixton give way to album highlight Aloe Blacc's 'Here Today'; the strong vibe of gospel and blues give it a certain dynamism and very inspirational quality. 'Shine My Way' by Sheppard has a lot of the same sound, and its more subdued lyrics carry all the richness that the swinging beat demands. The album departs with two more acoustic style songs - NEEDTOBREATHE's 'Difference' and OneRepublic's closer 'I Lived'. 'Difference' is slow and somber throughout, invoking the same vibe that made 'Children' work, while 'I Lived' picks up the pace around the time it gets to the bridge.
Continue reading: Various Artists - The Giver: Music Collection Album Review
Album number four from this South Carolina outfit was actually released in 2011, but comes to our attention as the band wrap up US tour dates and prepare for a jaunt to the UK. A top ten record in their homeland, those awaiting the next Kings Of Leon output could well be interested in this LP.
Whilst a massive radio hit in the style of 'Use Somebody' isn't present, NTB clearly know how to put a bluegrass-influenced tune together and, like the Followill family, their sound could easily be placed in arena settings. 'Oohs And Ahhs' is a stomping rocker with a simple chorus that the title betrays, while the mid-tempo 'White Fences' is obvious sing-a-long material. More gleaming guitar anthems can be found in the shape of 'Devil's Been Talkin'' and 'Keep Your Eyes Open', while 'Maybe They're On To Us' could well find you involuntarily grooving along.
Where many guitar bands lose momentum is when the acoustic guitars come out, or at the very least when their sound takes a more subtle approach. It is a pitfall mainly avoided here, with 'Slumber' as glorious as opening the curtains to the first sunny day of spring and 'Angel At My Door' flowing with positivity. Only 'Able' falls foul, proving unable to entertain as it moves to a gospel crescendo, but it is a very small blot on what is a very impressive copybook. NTB are princes to the Kings for now, but on this evidence they could challenge for their crown in future.
Continue reading: NEEDTOBREATHE - The Reckoning Album Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.