Peter Cincotti: East of Angel Town

Young pianist and singer/songwriter Peter Cincotti came off as a young Harry Connick, Jr. with his crooner delivery on his self-titled debut a few years back. So it may come as a shock when you hear his new album of all original material, East of Angel Town. That’s because this is a pop/rock album through and through, and Cincotti has obviously been hiding behind some really impressive songwriting ability. But this project was also aided by an all-star team of producers including David Foster, Humberto Garcia and Jochem van der Saag, all of whom contributed to making this album sound larger than life. All of that also makes Cincotti’s newfound pop sensibility a nice breath of fresh air, and while the closest comparison to the songs on East of Angel Town might be Gavin DeGraw, make no mistake about the fact that Peter Cincotti has his own artistry and he wears it well. Among a pretty stellar batch of songs, the standouts are the hard-driving “Be Careful” and “Love is Gone,” the bluesy “Another Falling Star” and “Witches Brew” and the made-for-radio pop gem, “Man on a Mission.” (LABEL: Warner Bros.)

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Seal: Soul

Seal once famously advised us that we were never gonna survive unless we got a little crazy, and it looks like he may have been right, because few things are crazier than a slowly dying label footing the bill for David Foster to produce an album of hoary old soul chestnuts covered by Mr. Heidi Klum – and yet that’s exactly what Warner Bros. has gone and paid for with the erroneously titled Soul. It actually does make a certain amount of sense, given that Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow have recently topped the charts with their own moldy covers discs, but Seal’s Soul (try saying that 10 times fast) is a case of lost potential: Although Seal’s vocals are as fine as ever, Foster’s enervating production turns everything into dinner music – yes, even “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” and “Knock on Wood.” Aside from Chinese Democracy, this is the most expensive-sounding album you’re liable to hear for the rest of the year, but nobody got their money’s worth – not the label, not the songwriters who will reap royalties for more unnecessary covers of these songs, and certainly not anyone who purchases this disc in hopes that it’ll live up to its title’s promise. Base familiarity seems to be the last failsafe path to sales for the foundering major labels, and Soul may very well find an audience with the same QVC-shopping shut-ins who lapped up Stewart and Manilow’s albums, but anyone who’s heard the original versions of these tracks should know better. (Warner Bros. 2008)

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