If 2009 got off to a slow start, the year definitely picks up steam in February. Top releases include The Fray and Lily Allen's second albums, India.Arie's second volume in her "Testimony" series, the debut of another "American Idol" finalist, Melinda Doolittle, and country star Dierks Bentley.
Melinda Doolittle, "Coming Back to You" (Hi-Fi Recordings). Season six "American Idol" finalist is by turns sassy ("Fundamental Things"), sultry ("The Best of Everything") and dreamy ("I'll Never Stop Loving You") on this collection of soulful tunes that recall the ‘60s and ‘70s, with the production drenched in organ and horns. Great old school R&B.
Duffy, "Rockferry Complete: The Deluxe Edition" (Mercury) British thrush releases enhanced edition of her breakthrough album "Rockferry" with seven new songs. For the five million or so who have already purchased the CD, they can purchase the new songs separately via the "Rockferry EP." Both releases are digital only. [Editor's note: Watch the video for Duffy's latest single off The Deluxe Edition at the end of this article.]
The Fray, "The Fray" (Epic) Denver band best known for its massive hit, "How to Save a Life" return for round two. First single, "You Found Me" has already taken off. Read review.
Ben Kweller, "Changing Horses" (ATO ) Not only does the indie darling change horses, he changes styles. Kweller has gone country on his new project. The 27-year-old singer-songwriter tells CMT
that the album was a result of "just doing what the songs told me to do. ... I just make the music that comes to me and comes out of my heart."
Leona Lewis, "Spirit-The Deluxe Edition" (J Records) See Duffy, above. Lewis's set is a CD/DVD package including four new songs, including her cover of Snow Patrol's "Run." The DVD contains seven music videos.
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, "Lonely Road" (Virgin). Following their gold-certified debut, the boys from Middleburg, Fla. return with another blast of power-pop/rock. They still sound like Fall Out Boy crossed with Blink-182. Rocker "You Better Pray" hit No. 17 on Billboard's Modern Rock chart and "Pen & Paper" charted on the Billboard Hot 100. This time out, RJA paired with producer Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, Daughtry) and he's produced a crisp, punchy album. There's nothing earth-shattering about RJA, but they do what they do well and they sing about real issues (their hit, "Face Down," from their debut, addressed domestic violence). Plus, they've shown they are more than willing to put the work in. This is a nice success story that bears watching to see if this album takes RJA to a new plateau-despite the horrible name.
[More after the jump.]
Lily Allen, "It's Not Me, It's You" (Capitol). British singer Allen recorded her latest album in Los Angeles with producer Greg Kurstin. "We decided to try and make bigger sounding, more ethereal songs, real songs," said Allen in a statement to NME. Listen to the album on myspace
"I wanted to work with one person from start to finish to make it one body of work. I wanted it to feel like it had some sort of integrity. I think I've grown up a bit as a person and I hope it reflects that." First single, "The Fear," entered the U.K.'s Official singles Chart at No. 1.
India.Arie, "Testimony Vol. 2: Love & Politics" (Motown). R&B singer Arie wrote this album simultaneously with 2006's "Testimony: Vol. 1, Life and Relationship." "I'm also talking about the way women view their bodies and how that affects our health," she told Billboard.
"I talk about AIDS in Africa; the hip-hop generation that doesn't prioritize its money. It's about the politics of human nature and humanity. It's not about me being preachy but doing music that touches and speaks to people."
Morrissey, "Years of Refusal" (Attack/Lost Highway). The King of Mope returns with another album of sure to be uplifting songs. Chrissie Hynde appears on the track "Shame is the Name." Morrissey starts a U.S. tour this month.
Thursday, "Common Existence" (Epitaph). Taste of Chaos headliners return with their fifth studio album, a hardcore slab of rock prefaced by first single "Friends in the Armed Forces." Lead singer Geoff Rickly told Spin.com, "I have a close friend in the service and several others that have finished their tours. The song was inspired by my conversations with them and by my conversations with their family members. It's about the shifting of perspective when it comes to wrong and right -- ultimately, the song is a wish for peace and well being for my friends."
Jonas Bros., "Music from the 3D Concert Experience" (Hollywood). Sometimes the title says it all. The film opens Feb. 27.
Lamb of God, "Wrath" (Epic). Opening for Metallica no doubt taught this metal quintet a thing or two. Josh Wilbur, who's produced Pink and Steve Earle, helmed the project. "We are excited change things up this time and work with Josh," drummer Chris Adler told Billboard.
"We've never stayed in one place too long, and the evolution continues. There is an aggressive shift in the material and our approach. The bar has been raised."
Jake Owen, "Easy Does It" (RCA Nashville). Country up-and-comer releases his second album, fronted by single "Don't Think I Can't Love You." His first album, "Startin' With Me," peaked at No. 8 on Billboard's country chart and spawned three Top 20 country hits.