What our critics are listening to

12:27 PM, Feb 04, 2013

Ryan Leslie (Getty)/


BUDDY MILLER AND JIM LAUDERDALE

BUDDY AND JIM. Miller and Lauderdale are not simply two of the main engines of traditional American music. They have known each other for years, and generally keep to the same orbit, producing and writing with similar artists and hosting their own Sirius-XM satellite radio show together, all while remaining incredibly prolific with their own music. Now they’ve done an album together, and it’s like this: You know how they say brothers and sisters have an affinity for singing together? So it goes with Buddy and Jim. Both are great songwriters, and Miller is such a highly regarded guitarist that he toured with Robert Plant a few years ago during Plant’s Americana phase. But it’s the singing that stands out here. They harmonize like the Louvin Brothers and swap twangy verses elsewhere. There are a few covers: Johnnie & Jack, Joe Tex, and they have a frantic blast with Jimmie McCracklin’s “The Wobble.” — Jeff Spevak

RYAN LESLIE

LES IS MORE. Musician, producer and singer Ryan Leslie decided to add a new flow to his musical resume: hip-hop. Sure, he has dropped a few bars here and there, but this CD is hip-hop backed by R&B, not the other way around as in the past. Leslie won’t stop anyone in their tracks with lyrics such as “you got a couple of ex-boyfriends, all they did was talk a lot. I got a couple of fast cars in the parking lot” on “Lovers and Mountains.” But it’s not the raps on this CD that make you want to stop and listen. It’s the slick production and crisp beats and melodies that Leslie is best known for. “5 Minute Freshen Up” is the thing that grooving until you drop is made of, as is “Beautiful Lie.” And “Joan of Arc”? This song is pure hip-hop thump. Les is More is more fun when you simply tune into the music. — Sheila Rayam

AARON NEVILLE

MY TRUE STORY. Anyone who thinks the great songs of the doo-wop era should be committed to the dustbin of history needs to play this CD now. One of the greatest vocalists ever spotlights the songs he loved in his youth, demonstrating how they remain as vital, as beautiful or as rocking as they day they hit the AM airwaves. There’s fabulous production by Don Was and Keith Richards (and mellow non-Stones guitar playing from Richards.) But it’s Neville who lends his astonishing voice to such glories as “This Magic Moment,” “My True Story,” “Be My Baby,” “Tears on My Pillow” “Under the Boardwalk,” and a version of “Gypsy Woman” that improves on his earlier version of a few years ago. Neville said he recorded 23 songs for the session, and a dozen ended up on this album. I want the other 11 now! — Jack Garner