Every year at this time record companies step up the marketing promotions with a blizzard of new records hoping music fans will pick up a few as stocking stuffers.
Music is personal and the industry makes sure there’s something for every taste from rock, country and pop to heavy metal, jazz and whatever hybrids artists create.
Some albums deliver a bright, fresh vision. Others are a slick rehash of old chestnuts. In either case, artists hope fans will open their wallets.
Below are several that came across the Gazette entertainment desk.
introduce Yerself is Gord Downie’s final, posthumous solo album released just 10 days after his death on Oct. 17. Recorded at Downie’s Bathouse studio, the singer-songwriter confronts his mortality in this farewell statement to family, friends and fans.
It was a last ditch effort – an incredible feat considering the ravaging effects of cancer treatment – and all 23 songs were laid down in one take. But it’s not a sad album. It is one of hope and exuberance, just the same way Downie lived his life.
Life is good for Twain with this first comeback album in 15 years. Since her divorce from Mutt Lange, she’s taken control of her life and Now is an expression of self-discovery. The songs are new, but the trauma of once losing her voice and losing her marriage is overshadowed by her irrepressible optimism. Even after tens of millions of albums sold, the spotlight is eager to have her back.
Reviewers and bloggers are giving Beautiful Trauma the high-five. Pink’s seventh studio album pulls together a synth-rock soundscape of 13 tracks that are at once elegant, shimmering and grungy. This is an album of gravity particularly highlighted by What About Us?, a song of political disillusionment.
Multi-platinum selling recording artist Johnny Reid is back with Revival, an album that reflects where he’s at right now. Veering away from his country roots, the new set is steeped in reflective rhythm n’ blues and gospel motifs.
Dealing with a few regrets from Wrecking Ball, Cyrus uses her full creative control in Younger Now. While previous albums were unapologetically edgy, the new pop-rock 11-track ushers in a deeper, more mature expression of who she is.
Country-pop singer Thomas Rhett is in the enviable position of having Life Changes hit No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200. He happily crosses lines that put him in synch with contemporary trends while giving the album a distinctive flavour.
The Great New American Songbook
Johnny Mathis may be a legendary vocalist. But there’s really nothing new in this songbook that we haven’t heard before. Hallelujah, You Raise Me Up and Just the Way You Are are a small sampling of this 11-track.
Past the Past
2017 Juno Award winner and platinum selling country artist Jess Moskaluke became the first female country artist to crack the Top 5 in a decade. In Past the Past, the Canadian artist keeps creating sparks with tunes such as Drive Me Away and Kill Your Love.
William Patrick Corgan
Two-time Grammy Award singer-songwriter Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan released Ogilala, a solo album that’s getting a ton of coverage. But don’t expect the rowdy, rambunctious, high energy of the Pumpkins. Corgan’s distinctive vocals are layered across a sparse but rich palette of acoustic guitar, piano and strings.
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
The Rest of Our Life
Country’s favourite power couple, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, may be superstars. But they have a down-home vibe that readily connects with Joe and Jane down the street. A family-oriented couple, the songs are mainly ballads sung as duets or in harmony. The album is well-balanced and sweetly soulful.
If jazz is your thing, check out Seal’s Standards. While the arrangements are not particularly innovative, Seal’s seductive baritone vocal ability carries the charts. The album takes you back to a gentler time with classics such as I Put a Spell on You, Smile and I’ve Got You Under My Skin.
Rock ‘n Roll legend Bryan Adams’ Ultimate is a combo of 19 of his best hit songs. There’s three decades of hits including Ultimate Love, a new song with an upbeat, swinging vibe. This compilation has one major objective: looking at Adams celebrated career.
Just the Beginning
Meet Grace VanderWaal, the 13-year-old sensation who was the winner of Season 11 of NBC America’s Got Talent, and is touted as the next Taylor Swift. Just the Beginning is her debut full-length album, a blend of 12 quirky, imperfect but fun and sincere songs.
Black Label Society
Black Label Society’s Zakk Wylde, who rejoined Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band earlier this year, powers this album with caffeine and chaos. This is one metal band that doesn’t mess around.
The Music … The Mem’ries … The Magic!
This album resulted from one of the recording artist’s live tours. At 74, Streisand can no longer hit some of those famed power notes, but that doesn’t detract from the magic of hearing a living icon share her incredible career in a two-disc set.
Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famers Cheap Trick plan to rock the Yuletide with the release of their first holiday themed album. The band smoothly blends everything from the nostalgic Silent Night to Joey Ramone’s funkier Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).
Ole’ Blue Eyes has been dead for 19 years, but he’s still churning out holiday songs. While Sinatra influenced the entire music industry, Ultimate Christmas is a blatant attempt from Frank Sinatra Enterprises at repackaging his classics from Capitol and Reprise catalogues and reselling the same old songs.
The Tenors are taking a warm and fuzzy route with Christmas Together. The 10-track combines a mix of holiday classics, contemporary favourites and original songs. Juno Award winner Johnny Reid even joins them for a a powerful a cappella rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.