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CDs Nuts 

Here I Stand
Usher
(LaFace)

Filler tracks outnumber potential singles at about a 2:1 ratio, but nothing here is unlistenable or even unpleasant. First single “Love in the Club” is catchy but suffers from heightened expectations. The remix improves with the addition of Beyonce, but the extended examination of the song’s stupid premise falls apart completely by the time Lil Wayne comes in.

The album’s best tracks are definitely not club ready. The title track, the too-brief “Prayer for You (Interlude),” acoustic ballad “Something Special,” and bonus track “Will Work for Love” succeed by turning off the synthesizers and letting Usher’s smooth, emotional voice do the work.

Lie Down in the Light
Bonnie “Prince” Billy
(Drag City)

The bouncy “Hee Haw” country of album opener “Easy Does It” might tempt you to think somebody spiked Will Oldham’s baby-tear cocktail with a shot of prozac. Don’t be fooled though. There’s a definite dark side to Lie Down in the Light.

The catchy “So Everyone” celebrates sex as narcissism with a gleeful candor that’s usually reserved for rap and Rolling Stones songs, and “Keep Eye on Other’s Gain” explores the downside to the happiness of those around you. There’s only a finite amount of it to go around after all. The title track somehow manages to make a mouth harp sound like a bummer, but the album’s subtle spirituality in tracks such as “What’s Missing Is” and the cover “I’ll Be Glad” give the album a somewhat uplifting conclusion, making Oldham’s latest an intense but emotionally fulfilling experience.


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September 9, 2020

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