JT’s New Music Reviews: Week of Nov. 18, 2022

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Welcome to the latest edition of “Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews” for 2022. (Bitmoji property of Jake’s Take)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

Happy New Music Friday, everyone! We got a lot of new music to unpack, so let’s get this party started!

Alicia Keys released her first holiday album: Santa Baby. (Album cover property of Alicia Keys Records)

Santa Baby by Alicia Keys 

Alicia Keys dropped her first-holiday album: Santa Baby. The former Voice coach and multi-Grammy winner teamed up with Tommy Parker and YNG Josh to co-produce her ninth studio album. Santa Baby contains a combination of classic tracks such as “Santa Baby,” “The Christmas Song,” and “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” and new songs that the “Girl on Fire” singer-songwriter co-wrote with Natalie Hembly and Emeli Sande. Santa Baby is a solid holiday record that features some of the “Underdog” performer’s best vocals this decade. B+

Tracks to Download or Stream: “Santa Baby,” “Christmas Time Is Here,” “December Back 2 June,” “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” & “Not Even the King.” 

Plot Armor by Atticus Dean

Jake’s Take with Jacob Elyachar Podcast guest Atticus Dean dropped his latest album: Plot Armor. The actor and musician showcased his superb gift as a composer. The Hardy Boys actor’s compositions could be easily inserted in various film and television projects such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the James Bond franchise. Plot Armor is a superb instrumental record that will inspire the next generation of composers. B+ 

Tracks to Download or Stream: “The Hunter,” “Aesthesia,” “We Will Endure the Long Nights,” “Petals,” & “I Only See You.”

Black Eyed Peas failed to elevate fans with their new music. (Album cover property of BEP Music & Epic Records)

ELEVATION by The Black Eyed Peas 

The third incarnation of the Black Eyed Peas (will.i.am, Apl.de.ap, Taboo, and J. Rey Soul) dopped the group’s ninth studio album. The Black Eyed Peas continued putting multiple musical styles and languages onto their record. In addition, several familiar collaborators such as David Guetta, El Alfa, Nicole Scherzinger, Ozuna, and Shakira rejoin the group for new tracks. Sadly, except for a few tracks, I was bored listening to ELEVATION. Several of their songs sounded repetitive, and there was little creativity. They need to stick to one or two musical genres in the future because the Black Eyed Peas could potentially lose their audience if they continue this road.  D/D+ 

Tracks to Download or Stream: “BAILAR CONTIGO,” “DANCE 4 U,” & “DON’T YOU WORRY.”

Bruce Springsteen paid tribute to the 1960s and 1970s soul music in Only the Strong Survive. (Album cover property of Columbia Records & Sony Music Entertainment)

Only the Strong Survive by Bruce Springsteen 

The Boss is back! He released the second cover album of his career. Only the Strong Survive features R&B and soul songs that dominated charts back in the 1960s and 1970s. The tracks include hits from the Commodores (“Nightshift,”), Frankie Valli (“The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”), and the Temptations (“I Wish It Would Rain”). Longtime producer Ron Aniello assisted the “Born to Run” performer in producing the album, while Sam Moore and the E Street Horns section appear on several songs across the record. While it is a superb record, I wished that “The Rising” singer selected soul classics such as tracks from the Aretha Franklin, Jackson Five, and Stevie Wonder songbooks. Some of the tunes would have easily replaced some of the filler covers, such as “I Wish It Would Rain” and “Hey, Western Union Man.” B- 

Tracks to Download or Stream: “Nightshift,” “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do),” “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” & “Don’t Play That Song.”

Louis Tomlinson’s Faith in the Future marks a new promising chapter in the former X Factor UK judge’s recording career. (78 Productions Limited & BMG Rights Management)

Faith in the Future by Louis Tomlinson 

Louis Tomlinson released his sophomore album: Faith in the Future. As music lovers and Louis fans listen to the record, they will notice several differences. First, the album has fewer producers than its predecessor – 2020’s Walls had 20 producers, while seven producers are credited for Faith in the Future. Secondly, a closer group of collaborators, such as James Vincent McMorrow, Frederik Ball, Dave Gibson, Theo Hutchcraft, and George Tizzard, played integral parts in assisting the “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” singer-songwriter with song construction. This brings me to the third change. Faith in the Future got the former X Factor UK finalist and judge into the Indie Rock world, leaving Britpop and pop music behind. I believe these changes will help Louis succeed as a solo artist, and I look forward to seeing what he does next. A- 

Tracks to Download or Stream: “Bigger Than Me,” “Lucky Again,” “All This Time,” “Out of My System,” & “Silver Tongues.”

“Interstellar” by Annabel Gutherz 

Jake’s Take with Jacob Elyachar Podcast guest Annabel Gutherz released her latest single: “Interstellar.” The Montreal-based singer-songwriter launched listeners into the solar system with shades of classic space-related tunes such as “Rocket Man” and “Space Oddity.” I loved the arrangement Annabel created with producer Dominique Messier; it is an excellent cosmos-themed song. A- 

“You Save Me” by Jessica Lynn & Liam Wakefield 

Jake’s Take with Jacob Elyachar Podcast guest Jessica Lynn teamed up with British alternative folk and Americana singer-songwriter Liam Wakefield for a new single: “You Save Me.” The song is in support of veterans who struggle with their mental health. “You Save Me” is also an autobiographical song, as the lyrics and melodies talk about Liam’s struggle with mental illness and how he overcame the darkness that almost consumed him. The music sometimes would remind listeners of the indie folk classic “Falling Slowly.” Also, the duo will donate 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to Forging Forward, a nonprofit that supports veterans with mental illness. Well done, Jessica and Liam. A 

“Never Gonna Not Dance Again” by P!nk

P!nk released a new single! This time, she reunited with her “Raise Your Glass” collaborators Max Martin and Shellback to create a disco anthem: “Never Gonna Not Dance Again.” As I listened to this track, I got chills. “Never Gonna Not Dance Again” is the perfect pick-me-up track to end 2022 on and launch a new beginning for 2023! A+

Artists to Watch:

Jake’s Take’s Artists to Watch is back! Here are some of the artists and bands that could take the music world by storm!

No Lonely Holidays by No Lonely Hearts

Rising boyband No Lonely Hearts released their first piece of Christmas music: No Lonely Holidays. Aidan, Alex, Brian, Dylan, and Oliver tackled two Christmas classics – “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Mary Did You Know.” They also released their first original holiday tune, “No Lonely Holidays.” The album reminds me of classic boyband holiday soundtracks. The group’s harmonies are superb, and No Lonely Hearts perfectly fills the voids that BTS, Collabro, and Why Don’t We left behind. I predict that 2023 will be a massive year for this quintet. B+/A- 

Tracks to Download or Stream: “No Lonely Holidays,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” & “Mary Did You Know?” 

“Sun in My Eyes” by Jane. 

Jane. (the moniker of Paraj Jain) is scheduled to drop his extended play, Celeste, in March 2023. The first single is “Sun in My Eyes.” The song is gorgeously haunting, thanks to underlying synthesizers, a cymbal section, and Spanish guitar licks. Jane. has a superb voice, and I am looking forward to hearing the rest of Celeste. B+ 

“Pick You Up” by Maddox Lim 

Maddox Lim rounds out this edition of Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews. The 13-year-old San Gabriel Valley, California native made my jaw drop when I heard “Pick You Up.” Music listeners would be in awe of the song’s heavy electric guitar riffs and superb lyrics. Well done, Maddox! 

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Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar