Posts Tagged ‘Britney Spears’

EP Review: LeAnn Rimes – ‘Re-Imagined’

June 25, 2018

LeAnn Rimes


* * * 1/2

While the craze of mainstream country stars collaborating with mainstream pop acts has garnered major attention, and rightfully so, another trend has been making waves but leaving far too little a wake. In August 2016, Suzy Bogguss released Aces Redux, a complete re-recording of her classic album in the lush acoustic style she favored in recent years. Dixie Chicks completely overhauled the arrangements on their songs for their MMXVI tour and companion concert album. Mary Chapin Carpenter reexamined parts of her back catalog on Sometimes Just The Sky this past March. Rodney Crowell has Acoustic Classics coming out the middle of next month.

Artists re-recording their hits have been going on since the beginning of recorded music. A recent cause for this is a little-known fact that when artists switch record labels, they don’t get to take the masters and rights to their discography with them. In other words, the artists entire back catalog is the sole property of their former home, especially if it was a major label.

Those re-recorded songs are typically sung as facsimiles of the original hit recording with the hopes a gullible music buying public won’t be able to tell the difference. Very often it’s those re-recordings that make their way onto digital platforms, especially if the artist’s original music hasn’t been licensed by their record label for release in that format.

What’s going on here is entirely different and completely by choice. These albums aren’t merely gimmicky cash grabs but thoughtful reexaminations of songs, and in this case of Rodney Crowell different songs entirely. For his new album, he completely re-wrote “Shame On The Moon.” He felt his original composition, which was a massive hit for Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band in 1982, wasn’t composed with the depth and complexity he would bring to the song today.

In the case of LeAnn Rimes and her new five-track EP Re-Imagined, she reworked these songs for her Remnants tour last year and decided to commit them to record. Although I’ve been somewhat of a rabid fan of her music since the very beginning, I haven’t been paying too much attention to her lately. This release broke the short drought, which I’m also sure it was intended to do.  

She opens the collection with “How Do I Live.” Her original version, from 1997, is still one of the cleanest and most masterful pop records I’ve ever heard. She transforms Diane Warren’s lyric into a piano ballad, which might work for some people, but it didn’t work for me. I really don’t care for Rimes in this style, which always comes off heavy, slow and prodding.

I had actually forgotten what the original version of “Can’t Fight The Moonlight” sounded like, the one featured on the Coyote Ugly soundtrack in 2000. Listening to it again, it’s clearly influenced by Britney Spears’ debut from a year earlier. I’m more familiar with the dance remix, which worked on an international scale as I’m sure Curb intended at the time. This new version, taken live from a concert, has more in common with the remix but features actually instrumentation.

Rimes’ original version of “Blue,” from 1996, is arguably still the greatest record she’s ever made. She gave it new life, in collaboration with The Time Jumpers, on Lady & Gentlemen in 2011. For this version, also taken live from a concert, she goes full-on jazz but doesn’t sacrifice the trademark yodel or the song’s traditional country roots.

The revelation, as far as her hit records are concerned, is “One Way Ticket (Because I Can).” Rimes gives the song a gorgeously soft acoustic arrangement stripping the song of any smoke and mirrors. It’s truly impressive what she does with the song, alone, without backup singers to give her a lift. Rimes still has it more than 22 years later.

The final track is one of the two songs from Spitfire that elude to the cheating scandal that soured her reputation with the public and ended her first marriage. “Borrowed” was originally produced by Rimes’ long-time collaborator Darrell Brown, who also oversaw this EP. The track was already in this style so nothing about the arrangement really changed.

However, this version is a duet with Stevie Nicks. Rimes and Nicks harmonize throughout the song, which is a mistake given the lyrical content. I’m also a huge fan of Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, so I’m saying this with love, but Nicks’ voice isn’t what it used to be but either is Don Henley’s. The age on Nicks’ rasp, which is far too low now, is just unappealing.

The majority of this EP feels utterly unnecessary and in place of new music, not really worth much of anyone’s time. Rimes’ voice has changed, too, which she claimed in a 2013 lawsuit was the result of botched dental work. She still has incredible range, which I noted when I reviewed “How To Kiss A Boy” in November 2016, but the clarity is gone.

I still recommend checking it out, especially if you’re a fan of Rimes’ work, to hear this new addition to her musical legacy.

Reality TV makes us dumb; smarten up and watch the news

December 2, 2009

The following is an editorial I composed for Colby-Sawyer’s student newspaper, The Courier:

UnknownThe continuing “Balloon Boy” saga has perpetuated two evils brewing for years in this country: our unquenchable thirst for fame, and a focus on entertainment as news.  Without knowing it, Richard Heene began a national conversation that, as a nation, we should be engaging in every day.

The 2000s are going to be commemorated as the “reality television” decade. TIME magazine first called attention to the craze in their June 26, 2000 cover story entitled “Voyeur TV.” Our decent into an unrecognizable world had begun.

The need to be famous has risen to unprecedented levels. Everywhere we look; there is coverage of a “celebrity” who is nothing more than someone who achieved fame due to a starring role or appearance on a realty show. These shows are good television that reel us in with frivolous idiocy and make us feel better about our own lives. What we have failed to grasp, and now need to engage in, is the danger in this type of programming. What Heene exposed to the world, is just how fame hungry our culture has become.

The danger lay in one simple fact: we began to care. Our fondness towards lives of these non-celebrities has added fuel to the fire for families like the Heenes to be able to pull off elaborate hoaxes, like the one we saw with the balloon. They are being held accountable for their actions even though we’re the ones to blame for this whole mess in the first place.

At what point are we going to stop and reevaluate? America needs to wake up from its long hibernation. The fact that we know intimate details of Jon and Kate Gosselin, or McKenzie Phillips’s experience with incest speaks volumes about where our head is at as a nation.

Non-reports about celebrities have seeped into our national news coverage and pushed us away from the issues that matter most. For example, CNN committed a Sunday afternoon to Britney Spears and her newly shaved head. More recently, coverage was dedicated to Maria Shriver for not following her husband’s law banning cell phones while driving. Are these types of stories really that important?

There are two habits that need to change: what we are given and how it is received. The American people need to focus on the important issues that affect us all. Information is power and the more informed we are, the smarter we are.

The domination of national news coverage by the likes of Kanye West, The Heene family, John and Kate, and other superficial garbage needs to cease.  The American people need to send a message, loud and clear, that they will not tolerate the brutal dumbing down of our culture.

As a nation, America needs to re-engage in the type of conversations that led to a change of public opinion about the Vietnam War. To not be informed about issues that matter (health care, global climate change, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Iran Nuclear crisis, etc.) is ignorant. We have turned a deaf ear to our biggest problems because we either do not understand them, or have grown fatigued by them.

America needs to be concerned again. Only we can effect change in this country. The problems plaguing our nation are up to us to fix, not the legislature in Washington.

I challenge you to really learn about the issues of the day. In the end you will be better for it. At the end of the day, our national issues mean more than who John Mayer may or may not be dating. Put away the gossip magazines, turn off MTV, and watch the news.

Thank you Richard Heene for starting the most important national conversation of our lifetime. America, it is time to continue it.