New Recordings: Coldplay; Sharon Van Etten; Santana
Ratings: **** Excellent, *** Good, ** Fair, * Poor
- David Hiltbrand
Sharon Van Etten
Are We There
Sharon Van Etten sings simple love songs that are anything but simple. On her fourth and best album, the North Jersey native songwriter teams with veteran producer Stewart Lerman and collaborates with a cast of musical helpmates that includes Dave Hartley and Adam Granduciel of Philadelphia band the War On Drugs to craft a set of 11 wounded, openhearted songs that soar with heightened emotional intensity. Van Etten's voice sweeps you up in its richly luxurious tone, and here she varies and refines her approach. The quietly hypnotic "Our Love" sneaks in lyrics like "I'm reliving my own hell." The majestically wounded "Your Love is Killing Me" is enacted on a mythic plane akin to epic heartbreak songs such as Lucinda Williams' "I Changed the Locks." And the supervulnerable "You Know Me Well" and "Break Me" make the search for "your own true self" seem an operatic matter of life and death.
- Dan DeLuca
Sharon Van Etten, with Jana Hunter, plays at 8:30 June 18 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St. Tickets: $15-17. Information: 215-232-2100 or www.utphilly.com.
(RCA/Sony Latin Iberia ***1/2)
Carlos Santana has made raging, Latin-tinged psychedelia since his band's 1969 eponymous debut and 1970s hits such as "Oye Como Va" and "Black Magic Woman." But the Mexican native has seldom embraced such a fully Latino-based album as he does here, in the superb Corazón. Like 1999's Supernatural, the new album matches Santana's nimble fingerings, fiery rhythms, and incendiary solos with the work of notable vocalists. Unlike that former effort, Corazón isn't vanilla. Instead, it brings in some big names in Latin music - Miguel, Romeo Santos, and others - to push Santana to flavorful new heights. Or old heights, because the guitarist hasn't sounded this gutsy, frenetic, or mean since 1987's Blues for Salvador.
Forget "Oye 2014" with Pitbull, Corazón's sole misstep. Backed by rugged Latin percussionists, Santana's guests keep this party unpolite yet elegant, with their host leading the charge. While Los Fabulosos Cadillacs tackle the palpitating cumbia "Mal Bicho," Juanes adds his liquid croon to the anthemic "La Flaca." Barking Brazilian Samuel Rosa raises the dead on "Saideira," Gloria Estefan passionately strolls through the rhumba of "Besos de Lejos." Though "Una Noche en Napoles" is Corazón's best vocal workout - a sensual meeting of Lila Downs, Niña Pastori, and Soledad - the jamming salsa of "Yo Soy la Luz," co-starring drummer Cindy Blackman-Santana and legendary jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, is its zestiest.
- A.D. Amorosi
Top Albums in the Region
This Week Last Week
Locally Nationally Locally
1 1 The Black Keys Turn Blue -
2 2 Michael Jackson Xscape -
3 3 Various Artists Now That's What I Call Music, Vol. 50 1
4 4 Various Artists Frozen 2
5 5 Rascal Flatts Rewind -
6 6 Dolly Parton Blue Smoke -
7 7 Tori Amos Unrepentant Geraldines -
8 8 Sarah McLaghlan Shine On 4
9 9 Hunter Hayes Storyline 3
10 13 Pharrell Williams G I R L 5
SOURCE: SoundScan (based on purchase data from Philadelphia and Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester, Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester Counties). Billboard Magazine 5/31/14 © 2014
In Stores Tuesday
Mariah Carey, Me. I Am Mariah . . . The Elusive Chanteuse;
Neil Young, A Letter Home;
Kiss, Kiss 40;
John Fulbright, Songs