CD reviews: Maja Salvador, Bocelli, Hall and Oates

By Jackie Dosmanos

Posted at Jun 08 2014 02:10 PM | Updated as of Jun 08 2014 10:10 PM


Maja is Maja Salvador, yes, the one who plays the other woman in the TV drama “The Legal Wife.” The EP “Believe” sees Maja spelling out the ABCs of young love in easygoing dance pop (“Kilig,” “Halika Na”), tear-jerking ballad (a remake of “Wala Na Bang Pag-Ibig”) and dreaming of love (“Buong Gabi”).

On record, there’s none of the crafty woman in the televised tug-of-war with Angel Locsin for the sole possession of Jericho Rosales. In place of that mature image, Maja sings like a carefree teenager musing on love’s trivial pursuits. She also reminds a lot of the late Yolly Samson of “Bato sa Buhangin” fame in her phrasing and delivery of the slow tracks on the EP.

Maja is really a big girl now as revealed on the inside pages of the album sleeve. You better believe she’s got the goods to do justice to her current televised affair.


Andrea Bocelli
"Love in Portofino"

The Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli is the biggest-selling artist in the annals of classical music, His latest release, a CD of hits from a previous album "Passione" and a DVD of his performance in the village of Portofino in Italy’s Riviera, offers a glimpse of his foothold in the classical world and a beachhead in contemporary adult pop.

Bocelli describes Portofino to be a “magical place for lovers” and the two discs collect love songs from another era like “When I Fall In Love” and “Love Me Tender” made famous by other artists. The Italian tenor also puts his unique stamp on 25 songs originally written in another language and he shows off his proficiency in adapting his vocal range to tunes in English, French and Spanish.

His companions in this singing odyssey include trumpet player Chris Botti, Jennifer Lopez and Caroline Campbell. Bocelli’s awesome pipes just trumps their contributions to the extent that most of the songs rises and falls along the same wavelength. No matter how you cut it, the two discs feature Bocelli’s kind of unerring classical sense, and his own brand of pop nostalgia.

When he does samba (“Corcovado,” the title track), Bocelli "errs" on the good side of fun and mass entertainment. The magic remains the same and our man Bocelli could use a little swing on the pop side to extend his charisma across all ages.


Sara Bareilles
"The Blessed Unrest"

Let’s talk marketing here. The name Sara Bareilles does not instantly ring a bell and the album title may conjure Christian hardcore music or an antithesis to Black metal. The 4 P’s theory to marketing success doesn’t apply!

Formal marketing constraints be damned. They have not prevented singer/songwriter Sara from reaching a core audience. “The Blessed Unrest” is actually her third album for a major label after toiling in underground obscurity to produce her indie debut some years back.

Let’s go beyond first impressions then and allow Sara and her music to make their own sales pitch. For starters, Sara Bareilles belongs to the Sarah Maclachlan/Tori Amos school of literate songwriting. Sara sings about love most of the time, and each time out, she strays as far as away from moon and June rhymes or the usual love-hate clichés.

Her songs spin tales of love’s possibilities between two people and Sara usually coats them in emotive ballads backdropped by slow-building piano, hushed drums and strings. “1000 Times” and the hit single, “Chasing The Sun,” demonstrate painstaking attention to give a fresh twist to the drama of falling in love. In “Little Black Dress” and “Eden’, she sprinkles a little bit of soul and a dash of R&B to her favorite theme.

Throughout “Blessed Unrest,” Sara Bareilles sound pleasingly at ease with her talent and craft. No amount of speculative P’s can beat that.


Daryll Hall & John Oates
"The Essential"

Philly blue-eyed soul exponents Hall & Oates have made a good run peppering the charts with hit singles in the ‘70s and ‘80s, until new wave and big rock from U2 to Bon Jovi sent them back to the margins of popular taste.


The Essential collects 37 surefire chart-busters and near-hits in a two-CD repackaging of The Ultimate Daryll Hall + John Oates, the duo’s certified greatest hits package released in 2004. This bulging anthology is therefore a more comprehensive review of Hall & Oates’s phenomenal career. It can also serve as an occasional throwback to a time when pop radio still mattered and the underground referred to the armed rebellion.