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Published : Apr 13, 2012 - 18:39
Updated : Apr 13, 2012 - 18:39
Paul van Dyk evolves little on ‘Evolution’


”Evolution”

Paul van Dyk

(Vandit)

German trance music titan Paul van Dyk treats us to his musical evolution with an album aptly titled “Evolution,” a light listen that features his signature synth-soaked approach. The good news for van Dyk fans is that he hasn’t lost his touch.

The bad news is it’s the same old touch, delivered at the same old pace and does little to show that van Dyk has truly evolved since five years ago, when he last delivered similar stuff.

Early tracks like “Symmetries” and “Eternity,” the latter featuring Owl City vocalist Adam Young, are simply too soft around the edges. There is no urgency to run to the dance floor and shake off the weight of the week to such flimsy fare.

”Rock This” builds up nicely and gets the blood flowing, but the bottom-end bass never comes hard enough and the listener is left anticipating something more fulfilling.

Van Dyk redeems himself slightly on “Lost in Berlin,” featuring sparse but catchy vocals from Michelle Leonard. Here van Dyk allows himself to get lost in a beautifully churning pace and give listeners something they can really move to.

These are the times when harder edged DJs and live electronic artists rule the dance floors. Deadmau5 and Grammy-winning Skillex are the current forces to be reckoned with in the sphere of electronic music. If van Dyk wants to keep pace with their powerful progressions, he’ll need a better evolution.

(AP)



Marvin Sapp returns victorious on “I Win”

Marvin Sapp

”I Win”

(Verity/Zomba)

Marvin Sapp’s world was rocked when his wife MaLinda died from colon cancer in 2010. Along with his personal life, the gospel singer also had to transition musically without his wife, who managed his career and encouraged him to release “Never Would Have Made It,” the 2007 song that would become his biggest hit.

But in his wife’s absence, Sapp says his three children helped him select material for his ninth album, “I Win,” which is filled with high-energy tracks and uplifting messages on how to endure life’s obstacles.

Sapp recorded the 10-song album live at a show in Upper Marlboro, Md. It’s led by the first single, “My Testimony,” a mid-tempo song where he sings the inspirational words, “I got some scars, but I’m still alive/In spite of calamity/He still has a plan for me/And it’s working for my good/And it’s building my testimony.”

Sapp’s soaring voice is accompanied by a choir on “Glory,” a piano-driven track that starts off with a slow pace then comes to an adrenaline-pumping end. Much like this song, the singer -- who is a pastor at Lighthouse Full Life Center Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. -- often takes a moment to inject a thought-provoking message.

On “The Hymns Medley,” Sapp calmly sings with only a pipe organ backing him up, while sprinkles of cheers and claps are heard throughout the song. He pours out his heart on the album’s title track, claiming at the end, “I ain’t no chump. I’m a winner.”

There are many others enjoyable songs such as “Deeper” and “I Belong To You,” proving that Sapp has delivered another victorious album with, “I Win.”

(AP)


Monica takes chance with ‘New Life’

Monica

“New Life”

(RCA Records)

After the success of her last album, 2010’s “Still Standing,” Grammy-winner Monica returns with a soulful yet less-than-impressive collection of R&B tracks.

The album’s first single, “It All Belongs To Me,” has deservedly attracted the most attention of all the songs on the album. Possibly the most talked about musical reunion of the year, it features Monica and Brandy with another powerful duet, 14 years since their 1998 classic “The Boy Is Mine.” This one is an anthem for the ladies, all about giving the boot to a no-good man.

But there aren’t a lot of songs as electric as that one. “Daddy’s Good Girl” has a strong beat but lyrically seems out of place, with lines like “Shopping sprees might make me smile for now but what about later?” “Big Mistake” is emotional and full of passion, but while it briefly grabs the listener’s attention, it doesn’t hold it. The same can be said for “Take A Chance” featuring Wale. Expectations are high, but a little more oomph is needed.

Among the highlights of “New Life” is “The Man Who Has Everything,” a risky song where Monica experiments with a reggae beat, and pulls it off.

Showing off her vocal range on “Without You,” Monica reminds us why she’s still relevant, and she takes it further on the sad and sophisticated “Until It’s Gone.’’ The raw pain in her voice hits home to give you goosebumps all over.

Vocally, Monica has never disappointed: Her voice is powerful and pure. But the album sounds uneven and underwhelming, perhaps due to the large number of producers, including past collaborators Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox and Missy Elliott, along with new blood like Salaam Remi and Rico Love. With all that talent behind Monica, it’s surprising this album has such a shortage of standout hits. (AP)
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