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Product: Audio CD
Title: White Ladder
Label: RCA
Artist: David Gray
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5

No, I have no affiliation with DG but this is clearly the best release I've EVER heard from a solo artist except possibly for Paul McCartney, my personal music god. This CD is a little dark, a little moody and a little mellow, but those are not drawbacks. It's just how it is, and his lyrics and melodies and production are all unique and simply fantastic. All very personal songs. I'd call this CD as close as you get these days to a masterpiece. Really.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Heavier Things
Label: Sony
Artist: John Mayer
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
A very fine followup

Wow, I didn't think John could out-do his quirky, melodic work of "Room for Squares," but somehow he pulled it off.
This isn't the sophmore slump, that's for sure. While I was expecting at least one guitar-thrashed rock song considering the title and the promise to "lose his acoustic style" on this record, you'll find none of that here.
What you will find is Pop and a little Pop Rock at its very finest in tracks like the album opener and ?uestlove-produced (yes, he uses a ? for a Q) "Clarity", and insanely catchy "Bigger than my body", complete with flawless falsetto.
But there are at least two more tracks that will floor you. The loopy, groove-induced "Home Life" is priceless as the anti-suburban anthem of the record, but "Daughters" is where Mayer really shines. No parent in the world could not fall in love with this song. It speaks to all parents and their responsibilities to their children. It's sweet, acoustic pop, with a smooth melody that takes a few listens to appreciate. You can almost hear the lighters flicking to life in the crowd as the song begins.
While the rest of the record isn't bad, per se, its just not as memoriable or as high quality as those songs tend to be.
I wasn't sure if Mayer could pull it off, but he certainly has. Good work John, I'm a big fan.

Product: Audio CD
Title: The Wildlife Concert
Label: Sony
Artist: John Denver
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
The Essential John Denver Album - Stunning!

How good to know that even in our fast-paced world, excellent music and excellent musicians still age well. We have gotten too used, I think, to throwaway pop stars, one right after the other, little substance. The anger in that music drowns out life itself.
And then there is John Denver. Corny, perhaps, and because we became so comfortable with him, almost a cliche.
But put on this CD and hear the joy in his voice, that exuberance at having gotten older and still loving life in Colorado, the music he makes, and poems, prayers, and promises. And listen to the audience response, the beauty of communal singing...
It is quite possible that our generation got to witness the birth of songs that will survive in the folk/oral tradition, passed down from one family to the next, simply because it is great fun to sing that man's music. That flawed man, that imperfect man, that man who could not be separated from his melodies or lyrics.
Future generations may never know who John Denver was, but they'll likely know that West Virginia was almost heaven.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Label: Sony
Rating: 3/5
Customer rating - 3 out of 5
Mmmmmm.......patchy in places

Somehow, this soundtrack just didn't live up to my expectations. In the theatre, I kept thinking, "Man! This will be an awesome CD!" As an avid fancier of soundtracks, I thought this would be an essential addition to my collection.
Whoo, boy.
I have a few complaints. Number one is the crazy, mixed-up order of the tracks. It just doesn't make sense. I was very disappointed that I couldn't really "play" the movie all the way through in my head while listening. I kept getting confused as to where in the story we were because it kept jumping around from point to point.
Number two is the fusion of some tracks. The points in the film that they paired this with sometimes are completely unrelated. For example, "The Sith Spacecraft AND The Droid Battle." Whoa! Big step! Kind of jumping ahead, aren't we? "Qui-Gon's Noble End" just made me gag. It sounds so cheesy, nothing worthy of a "noble end" for the film's best character. And a point in "Jar Jar's Introduction", about 50 seconds in, sounds absolutely Home Alone-esque.
About three tracks are really worth listening to. "Augie's Great Municipal Band" is a fun, rollicking tune. "The High Council Meeting and Qui-Gon's Funeral" gives me chills, especially the latter part. "Anakin's Theme" is the best one yet. THIS track is the type of John Williams' music I love!
Those tracks really redeem the whole CD. All over, borrow a friend's before you buy, or get it half-price.
Happy listening, Dani Girl