Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews: Week of December 18, 2020

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Welcome to the latest edition of “Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews.” (Bitmoji property of Jake’s Take)

Welcome to the final Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews of 2020! As the year wraps up, here is the last batch of albums and singles. For the final time this year, let’s get this party started!

AGT fan-favorites NDLOVU Youth Choir released their sophomore album: Rise. (Album cover property of Sony Music Africa)

Rise by NDLOUV Youth Choir

America’s Got Talent alums NDLOUV Youth Choir dropped their sophomore album: Rise. Once again, this group delivered a spectacular album that gave an African twist to a plethora group of covers that range from classics (“Respect”) to Top 40 favorites (“Blinding Lights”). Under choir director Ralf Schmidt, this impeccable group of performers continues to spread joy and hope to their fans and music lovers worldwide. A

Tracks to Download: “We Will Rise,” “Blinding Lights,” “Hold On,” “Higher & Higher,” & “Jerusalema.”

Months after Taylor Swift released Folklore, the singer-songwriter dropped a surprise album for her fans. (Album cover property of Taylor Swift)

Evermore by Taylor Swift

Five months after Taylor Swift dropped her eighth studio album, Folklore, the “Last Great American Dynasty” singer-songwriter released her ninth album. When I heard about this new album, I was surprised and concerned because Folklore was so fantastic. As I listened to Evermore, I was thoroughly impressed with Ms. Swift and her right-hand man, Aaron Dessner. The National guitarist co-wrote a bulk and produced most of the album with “The Man” performer. Evermore does deliver an impactful punch, and I predict it will play a significant role in the 2021-22 music awards race. B+ 

Tracks to Download: “willow,” “gold rush,” “No Body, No Crime,”  & “ivy.”

Despite good intentions, Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott released an below average album. (Album cover property of Sony Music Entertainment)

Songs of Comfort & Hope by Yo-Yo Ma & Kathryn Stott

Two of the world’s beloved classical musicians, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott, released a collaborative album in hopes to lift everyone’s spirits. The duo selected 20 classic tunes that ranged from traditional hymns to show tunes. Before I get to my review, I recognize both Mr. Ma and Ms. Stott are masters of their craft. However, Songs of Comfort & Hope left me disappointed. It is all about the song choice, and I believe the duo chose the wrong ones. It would have been delightful to see them include more pop classics such as “Man in the Mirror,” “Like A Prayer,” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” Or a Disney song or two (“A Whole New World” or “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”) would have excited more younger listeners. Maybe I will appreciate Songs of Comfort & Hope when I am older, but sadly now is not the time. D+/C- 

Tracks to Download: “Ol’ Man River,” “Over the Rainbow,” & “Songs Without Words, Op. 109.”

Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys FINALLY collaborated on “Matches.” (Music video property of Sony Music Entertainment)

“Matches” by Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys 

I was a fourth-grader at Indian Valley Elementary School when both Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys dropped two of the biggest albums in teen pop history: …Baby One More Time and Millennium, respectively. Back in 2016, the “Stronger” singer teamed up with the “I Want It That Way” boyband to record a song that would appear on Britney Spears’ ninth studio album: Glory. Four years later, the duo’s team-up was finally released on Glory’s deluxe edition. Written by Justin Tranter, Ian Kirkpatrick, Mike Wise, and Asia Whiteacre, “Matches” is the perfect anthem for your holiday and New Year’s Zoom dance parties. A- 

Gwen Stefani previewed her new single: “Let Me Reintroduce Myself” on The Voice. (Music video property of NBC)

“Let Me Reintroduce Myself” by Gwen Stefani

2020 has been a great year for Gwen Stefani! Blake Shelton finally proposed to her, and she also mentored the latest winner of The Voice: Carter Rubin. Now, the “Make Me Like You” released her third single of the year: “Let Me Reintroduce Myself.” The former Las Vegas headliner teamed up with Ross Golan and Luke Niccoli, who also produced the track, to co-write a song that revisits her classic No Doubt days. It will take a while to marinate, but I like “Let Me Reintroduce Myself.” B- 

P!nk teamed up with NDLOVU Youth Choir for a moving cover of “A Million Dreams.” (Music video property of RCA Records)

“A Million Dreams” by P!nk with the NDLOVU Youth Choir 

A few weeks ago, P!nk teamed up with the NDLOVU Youth Choir on a beautiful reinterpretation of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman. This pairing was made possible by the 2020 UNICEF Changemaker campaignThis cover was perfection all around. A

Sir Ringo Star recruited an all-star group of recording artists for the Diane Warren-penned track: “Here’s to the Nights.” (Music video property of Universal Music Group)

“Here’s to the Nights” by Ringo Starr with an all-star group of collaborators.

The legendary Sir Ringo Starr ended 2020 “With a Little Help From His Friends.” Entertainment Weekly reported that the drummer gathered a group of music superstars to record the Diane Warren-penned track: “Here’s to the Nights.” His fellow Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney, joined a plethora of collaborators that included Dave Grohl, Sheryl Crow, Chris Stapleton, Lenny Kravitz, Joe Walsh, Ben Harper, Finneas, and Corinne Bailey Rae. I got chills when I first heard the chorus; I thought it could be this decade’s “We Are the World.” What a way to swipe the stain that 2020 left behind and hope for a brighter 2021. A+

Head to the bottom of the page to click on “2” to find out which performers are featured in the last 2020 edition of New Music Reviews.

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Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar