Music News & Reviews

CD review: ‘Heart on My Sleeve’ and ‘Black Star Elephant’

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Singers take the soapbox on 2 albums

Sincerity went out of fashion two decades ago, right? That’s one reason for the paucity of issues-minded pop. And yet, a couple times a year, a song penetrates through the self-involved clutter. Last year, it was “Same Love,” written and sung by Mary Lambert. This year it’s “Am I Wrong,” by the Afro-Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz. They are resolutely positive singers, and they’ve opted for production that echoes the neutered global pop of the 1980s, sprinkled with African influences. The album’s social commitments outweigh its aesthetic ones, but it doesn’t suffer for it.

Lambert uses her soapbox for something beyond mere preaching on “Heart on My Sleeve,” her major-label debut album. A warm singer, Lambert’s politics are universal – and severely personal. This album is full of the sort of self-lacerating confessional music that was all the rage two decades ago, and now feels both foreign and refreshing. This album doesn’t wear its politics on its sleeve – its own form of political triumph.

Jon Caraminica, New York Times

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