LeAnn RimesYou Light Up My Life (Curb 77885)Perhaps the...


September 25, 1997|By J.D. Considine

LeAnn Rimes

You Light Up My Life (Curb 77885)

Perhaps the best way to think of LeAnn Rimes' third album, "You Light Up My Life," is as a sort of a musical litmus test. If you find Rimes' reading of these songs of inspiration -- a collection that includes "I Believe," "I Know Who Holds Tomorrow" and the title ** tune -- to be earnest, uplifting and wholesome, odds are that you are a caring, values-oriented individual. If, on the other hand, you end up feeling as if you'd spent 45 minutes drowning in treacle, odds are that you're my kind of person. Because it doesn't really matter whether you think these songs are spiritually uplifting or just so much canned corn; the real problem with this album is the way Rimes repeatedly skims the surface of the songs. She may understand the scale of the songs -- the importance of warbling sweetly through the title tune, how to build intensity in "The Rose," and why a certain restraint is needed in "God Bless America." But her singing has more to do with power and tone than with any sense of what the songs are about. So "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is all bombast and empty drama, while "Amazing Grace" comes off sounding more like a showpiece than a prayer. All told, not a terribly inspiring album.

Busta Rhymes

When Disaster Strikes (Elektra 62064)

"Understated" is not a term normally applied to Busta Rhymes. Between his hyped-up flow and larger-than-life persona, Rhymes stands out even in a field full of extroverts. Even so, the reason "When Disaster Strikes" is such an improvement over Rhymes' last album, "The Coming," is that these raps have him all in check. Instead of the verbal splatter that often left the rapper sounding like he'd been wound too tight, Rhymes reins his raps in enough to give his cadences an air of controlled hysteria. That gives a real sense of scale to performances, so that small gestures often have enormous impact. "Turn It Up," for instance, finds him pushing the beat just enough to make the rhythm bed -- looped from Al Green's "Love and Happiness" -- seem ominous instead of laid-back. Likewise, there's a simmering intensity to his delivery in "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" that perfectly suits the slow boil of the groove, while the interplay between Rhymes and the rest of his Flipmode Squad on "We Could Take It Outside" is cluttered and contentious enough to put some teeth into its dreamily sad backing track. It's amazing what a little self-restraint can do.


Homogenic (Elektra 62061)

Being pretty much in a world of her own artistically, it almost makes sense that Bjork would have coined the word "Homogenic" for her new album because she didn't like the more traditional term "homogenous." After all, the music she offers here is equally self-defined, drawing from both art rock and electronica without playing either in the expected way. "Joga," for example, cushions its plaintive chorus with a gorgeously melancholic string arrangement (scored by Eumir Deodato), but pushes its melody along with the muted thump of a churning electronic pulse. "Homogenic" is full of such unlikely juxtapositions, from the itchy energy of "Bachelorette," where the dramatic tension of the string arrangement is pushed up a notch by the nervous clatter of the drum machines, to the unsettling calm of "Immature," which layers dreamy synth loops and a sad, sing-song melody against the relentless tick of the rhythm track. That may be frustrating for those who favored the club-oriented side of Bjork's sound -- although the grooves have their charm, the rhythms are so trippy that dancing to them often feels like swimming through syrup -- but anyone else is likely to be smitten by the luminous charm of her otherworldly voice.

Various Artists

Lounge-A-Palooza (Hollywood 20722)

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