Kylie Minogue


Kylie Minogue

Album: “Golden”

Grade: B-

It was bound to happen eventually. Don’t even pretend to be surprised: Kylie Minogue, the pop goddess from Australia, has gone country. Hey, if Justin Timberlake and Steven Tyler can do it, why not the woman behind “Locomotion”?

Minogue hasn’t completely ditched her pop-dance roots on “Golden,” her 14th studio album, but it’s got a distinct twang. Not too much, not too little. Country die-hards might object, but the rest of us will be simultaneously throwing our arms into the air while line dancing.

“Golden” emerged following Minogue’s first trip to Nashville, Tenn., last year. It must have made a big impact: Lead single “Dancing” is positively Dolly Parton-ish, and Minogue goes on to sing about rodeos, drinking-too-much mates and even a muscle car (“Shelby ’68”).

Minogue has a hand in writing every song and leaned on two songwriters who share her boundary-crossing – Steve McEwan, who has written for James Arthur and Kenny Chesney, and Amy Wadge, who has worked with Ed Sheeran and James Blunt.

The lyrics fit a woman who turns 50 this year – regret, bad love, hope and yearning. She hopes she won’t make the same mistakes in “Stop Me from Falling” and tries to move on in “Radio On,” where “I roll the windows down and I just fade you out.” There’s a whiff of mortality on “Dancing” when Minogue, a cancer survivor, sings about “when the final curtain falls.”

–Mark Kennedy, Associated Press

Various Artists

Album: “Revamp” and “Restoration”

Grades: B

Considering the quality of the songwriting partnership combining Elton John’s music with Bernie Taupin’s lyrics and that the song selection on these two tribute albums is, with some exceptions, a collection of fairly clear-cut covers of their biggest hits, your level of enjoyment will depend mostly on your like, dislike, tolerance or rejection of the contributors.

Sir Elton curated “Revamp,” which gathers versions by inhabitants of the rock and pop worlds, from Lady Gaga and Mary J. Blige to Coldplay, Sam Smith and The Killers, and opens with Pink, Logic and a John cameo on “Bennie and the Jets.”Highlights include Florence + The Machine’s take on “Tiny Dancer,” Queens of the Stone Age’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and Sam Smith’s “Daniel.”

“Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” by Mary J. Blige and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Q-Tip featuring Demi Lovato probably veer farthest from the originals but if the musical backing is a bit clouded, the passion of the vocals still shines through. Meanwhile, Ed Sheeran reclaims “Candle in the Wind” for Marilyn Monroe.

Taupin took “Restoration” under his wings and its versions by country artists is rooted in the fact that more than a handful of his and John’s songs shared a kinship with what’s now called Americana. It is the profounder album of the two.

Miranda Lambert carries with grace the emotions behind “My Father’s Gun,” about a Confederate soldier returning to battle after burying his dad, while Lee Ann Womack is an ideal choice for the groovy “Honky Cat.” Vince Gill and Don Henley polish “Sacrifice” and Rosanne Cash shares “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore” with Emmylou Harris.

–Pablo Gorondi, Associated Press

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