CD reviews: Zendee, Rod Stewart, Sarah Brightman
Zendee Rose Tenefere hails from General Santos City. She’s another YouTube sensation and the highest point of her young singing career was to be invited to and actually grace Ellen DeGeneres's show.
Zendee’s debut album “I Believe” sounds like a chock-full of covers and her voice easily brings to mind the late Whitney Houston. In fairness, the eight tracks are good enough to showcase the range of emotions she can effortlessly deliver. She also consistently enunciates the lyrics clear and comprehensible whether it’s a remake of a Leonard Cohen song (“Hallelujah”) or an original composition (“I Believe’ by Lambert Reyes Jr.)
Opening song “Runaway” is a winner by any standard, even though it places Zendee rather prematurely on the R&B dance diva pedestal. It’s in the following big-hearted ballads where she takes off, inflating tunes to the stratosphere without breaking sweat.
Zendee is already a hit in YouTube and in the boob tube, and she’s doing this because she firmly believes in herself.
Listening to "Dream Chaser," you will realize that the music world has finally caught up with the eclectic sound of Sarah Brightman.
In today’s rock terms, Brightman zigzags along the progressive rock and classical music divide in much the same way as recent albums by The Muse, Coldplay and U2. Only the presence of a full orchestra and the absence of long guitar solos on her records prevent critics from hailing her as a prog-rocker.
On Brightman’s latest album, her first studio recording in five years, the line separating progressive and classical music gets finer than ever. She covers compositions by musicians already associated with the post-rock movement such as The Cocteau Twins, Elbow and Sigur Rós, while songs by pop tunesmiths like Sir Paul McCartney and former Squeeze Chris Difford get boosted to psychedelic heights. The orchestra lays on the symphonic bombast nimble and fast just to provide the panoramic soundtrack without overshadowing Brightman’s singular performance.
A few production tricks show up on the album. The diva adds vocoderized vocals on a few tracks and the final song is a bass-heavy thumper, obviously an open invitation to get remixed.
The crossover opera diva recently announced she hopes to record in outer space soon and "Dream Chaser" captures the essence of space rock. This album could be Brightman’s final scratch pad before she heads out for the music of the spheres.
The DVD pack comes with a second disc of videos, photo gallery and bonus tracks.
After years of tunneling back to the roots of modern pop, Rod the Mod is back into the present with a new album of fresh music. Those wanting to hear Rod the rocker will find themselves listening instead to the Rod Stewart of old, the cool cat whose pleasing rough-hewn voice has not aged a bit.
Kicking off with a jubilant “Yuhoo!”, the first song “She Makes Me Happy” celebrates the joys of having a caring partner to come home to. Next track borrows from the Springsteen/ John Mellencamp school of blue-collar rock to declare triumph over adversity. Third cut, “It’s Over,” expresses sadness over a failed relationship but there’s only resignation rather than recrimination in Stewart’s voice.
He then unveils his rocking heart in “Beautiful Morning” and “Finest Woman” where a blistering sax solo breaks down a solid Motown backbeat. The closing pair of “Make Love To Me Tonight” and “Pure Love” explores two sides of Stewart’s greatest sexual come-on “Tonight’s The Night.” In either song, the urgency of the ‘70s hit is replaced by an unhurried awakening of passion. Our mature Lothario has learned the virtue of patience.
Produced by Stewart himself, his latest album will entertain the socks off everyone. Forget the classic tag. “Time” is modern rock from the get-go.