Ratings: **** Excellent, *** Good, ** Fair, * Poor
(Star Track / Interscope **1/2)
- Dan DeLuca
The Polyphonic Spree
Yes, It's True
(Good Records ***)
When the Polyphonic Spree first appeared in 2001 with The Beginning Stages of. . ., the gimmicks threatened to outweigh the music. The band, often numbering two dozen, wore white choir robes and sang exceedingly happy songs that crossed late '60s vocal groups like the Free Design and Up With People with the psychedelia of the Flaming Lips. The band's leader, Tim DeLaughter (formerly of Tripping Daisy), had the manic energy of a cult leader, but the Spree were serious about their fun, and serious about the massed power of their orchestral and choral arrangements.
Yes, It's True. is the Spree's best album since their first. It balances unbridled enthusiasm (the motivational "What Would You Do") and reflective truths (the lovely love song "You're Golden"). As they sing in one song, they "Blurry Up the Lines." The Spree sell their communal joy in a way that doesn't seem contrived or silly, and the euphoric surface often masks bittersweet undertones.
- Steve Klinge
Vince Gill and Paul Franklin
(MCA Nashville ***)
A star in his own right, Vince Gill here pays tribute to two of his heroes, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. That he shares top billing with steel guitarist Paul Franklin, his partner in the ad-hoc trad-country band the Time Jumpers, shows the focus is on the instrumental as much as the vocal.
With this music, that's how it should be. Gill is as talented a guitarist as he is a writer and singer, and these songs inspire him and Franklin to put their own stamp on them: Listen to the way the lyrical Stratocaster lead weaves around the whining steel in the extended instrumental coda to Haggard's "Holding Things Together," one of the lesser-known gems on the set.
As for the vocals, Gill has never sounded better. He's thoroughly committed to the material - check out the way he reaches for the falsetto on Haggard's "I Can't Be Myself" - and that underscores the infectious joy conveyed by this heartfelt homage.
- Nick Cristiano
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1 2 Jay Z Magna Carta . . . Holy Grail 1
2 1 Selena Gomez Stars Dance -
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4 5 Marc Anthony 3.0 -
5 4 Kidz Bop Kids Kidz Bop 24 2
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9 7 Imagine Dragons Night Visions 9
10 10 Justin Timberlake 20/20 Experience 10
SOURCE: SoundScan (based on purchase data from Philadelphia and Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester, Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties). Billboard Magazine 8/10/13 © 2013
On Sale Tuesday
Hugh Laurie, Didn't It Rain;
Christian McBride, Out Here; Gary Burton, Guided Tour;
The Civil Wars, The Civil Wars