Here are reviews of two recent album releases:
Nashville trio Gloriana, rebounding from the departure of fourth member Cheyenne Kimball, manage to make their sparkling musical arrangements and sweet harmonies come across more engagingly than ever on their second album, “A Thousand Miles Left Behind.”
Still working an acoustic-based string sound made contemporary through rhythms and musical accents, Rachel Reinert and brothers Mike and Tom Gossin prove that losing Kimball's instrumental virtuosity doesn't slow down their musical growth.
However, another new development does hamper their forward movement. Group members co-wrote all 11 songs after contributing only one song to their 2009 self-titled debut. The step proves a bigger challenge than they can handle.
Their potential as songwriters comes through on the album's best cuts, including “(Kissed You) Good Night,” written by Tom Gossin and Josh Kear — and Gloriana's first Top 10 country hit. Mike Gossin's “Turn My World Around” and Reinert's “Where My Heart Belongs” also connect by conveying real emotions.
“Can't Shake You” employs a simmering electric guitar riff and gently insistent rhythm to create a sound that is steamier and more mature than most songs on the album.
But the autobiographical nature of several lyrics — such as “Sunset Lovin'” and “Go On . Miss Me” — fails to transform intimate experiences into universal themes. The trio's sound is golden, but some of the songs need more polish.
(Maybach Music Group/Def Jam)
Throughout his career, Rick Ross has declared himself a “bawse.” On his latest album, “God Forgives, I Don't,” the Miami rapper continues to live up to his catchphrase, proving he's one of the top bosses not just in hip-hop, but in music period.
His fifth solo album in six years is loaded with undeniable quality tunes, making his new offering his most well-balanced piece of work to date. It's clear that the burly, bearded Ross — who normally dons black shades — has made strides as a lyricist and storyteller.
His husky voice is full of bravado with eloquence that is easy to digest. He stays in his familiar lane, rapping about grimy street life, his large stash of cash, luxury cars, women and his rise from rags to riches.
But what makes Ross special on “God Forgives” is his colorful perspective. That is certainly evident on “Pirates” where he raps, “Fascination with fortune afford me mansion and Porsches, panoramas, abortions, marijuana imported, dreams of getting cream and never to be extorted, seen so many things be preposterous not to record it.”
On “Maybach Music IV,” which features Ne-Yo, Ross continues his popular work with producers J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, who again craft a stunning track highlighted by smooth saxophone and other instruments.
Ross measures up with Jay-Z and Dr. Dre on “3 Kings,” and his collaboration with Andre 3000 on “Sixteen” makes for an enjoyable listen. The album is also filled with other club bangers and street anthems, such as “Hold Me Back” and “Ten Jesus Pieces,” featuring Stalley.
Of Ross' four albums, three have debuted at No. 1 and three have reached gold status; another debuted at No. 2, and the only one not to reach gold is close to it. With “God Forgives,” Ross is consistent, and it sounds classic.