From the moment Cher Lloyd nervously strutted out on the X Factor UK stage and smiled you knew the young Brit was poised for international stardom. Her audition (Keri Hilson’s version of Souljah Boy’s “Turn My Swag On”) was a slam dunk and over the weeks her X-Factor performances tended to showcase the young singer’s affection for hip-hop. While Lloyd didn’t win the competition, the starlet won enough fans over for a number one single and a #4 album in the UK.
Now it’s time for US audiences to fall in love with Lloyd’s hip-pop style and with over 1 million downloads of her debut single “Want U Back”, her stateside love affair is off to a great start. Now fans will get a full dose of Lloyd with her debut album Sticks & Stones (out October 2nd).
On Sticks & Stones, Lloyd comes off as a cooler, more relatable Nicki Minaj-type singer/rapper. . . except Lloyd doesn’t need an alter ego. What you see is what you get and what you get is an in-your-face, high-energy album. Lloyd shines on the mid-tempo “With Ur Love”, the UK, attitude-filled hit single “Swagger Jagger” (which begs for a remix and gay boys on the dance floor), new single “Oath” featuring Becky G and album closer “End Up Here”.
While some of the material may be juvenile (“Grow Up”), Lloyd’s sassy, exuberant and youthful (evidenced by her text message like track spellings) personality sells the weak moments. Overall, the album is a solid debut proving there is enormous potential for Lloyd’s star to burn brighter over the next few years.
Key Tracks: “Playa Boi” ,“End Up Here” and “Want U Back”
Tristan Prettyman Cedar + Gold (Capitol Records)
After a four-year hiatus that included ending her engagement to Jason Mraz and vocal cord surgery, Prettyman found herself questioning whether or not she should continue pursuing music. The result is an album that chronicles the evolution of pain and heartbreak.
Cedar + Gold album opens with “Second Chance”, an upbeat kiss-off to a lover that she refers to as the “best thing to never happen to me”. The album continues to weaves stories of love and loss through each of the album’s 12 tracks. Highlights include the soul-baring “I Was Gonna Marry You”, the reflective “Glass Jar” and album closer “Never Say Never”. Fans of Prettyman’s earlier work will find her breezy style upgraded to emotional gusts on “Bad Drug’ and the tongue-in-cheek “Rebound” but these tracks fit well because they are both part of the story.
There’s a beautiful tug of war in Cedar + Gold that keeps listeners shifting between reveling in and getting over love lost. There should be little doubt but if Prettyman needs any reassurance that music is her path, she’ll need to look no further than her fans’ (new and old) reactions to Cedar + Gold.
Check out the video for “I Was Gonna Marry you” below
Tori Amos Gold Dust (Deutsche Grammophon / Mercury Classics)
I don’t get every single Tori Amos album. I couldn’t stop listening to and dissecting Scarlet’s Walk and The Beekeeper but ask me about American Doll Posse and I can only think about ripping the heads of Barbie Dolls. As for 2009’s Abnormally Attracted to Sin, I was bisexual able to embrace half of it but 2011’s Night of the Hunters left me begging for a Dick Cheney hunting trip.
Welcome Gold Dust, an orchestral reimagining of tracks from Amos’ extensive catalogue. Just as my relationship with Tori Amos has changed and shifted over the years, Amos admits that her relationships with the tracks selected for Gold Dust have changed as well. Sandwiching early hits such as “Silent All These Years” and “Precious Things” between lesser known songs such as ADP’s “Programmable Soda” takes listeners on a career-spanning 20-year journey. The only complaint is that 14 tracks just isn’t enough. If Amos would do albums like this with fan requests, my list is ready. Regardless, Gold Dust is a must have for any Amos fan, no matter the level of your relationship with her over the years.