Reviews of New pop music Releases

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Reviews of New pop music Releases

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The Philadelphia Inquirer


BILLY JOE ARMSTRONG AND NORAH JONES “Foreverly” (Reprise, 3 stars)

“Songs Our Daddy Taught Us” was a surprise move from Phil and Don Everly in 1958. After a string of pop-rock hits such as “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie,” the brothers chose to release a set of traditional country tunes for their second album. “Foreverly” is similarly surprising: It finds Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong harmonizing with Norah Jones on a set of covers of “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.”

Although we’ve heard Jones sing country in the Little Willies, it’s a revelation to hear Armstrong so at ease crooning, without a trace of his pop-punk sneer, on tunes such as “Long Time Gone” and “Rockin’ Alone (in an Old Rockin’ Chair).” He takes most of the leads, with Jones singing Phil’s high harmonies, and the arrangements rely on acoustic guitars, brushed drums, and the occasional harmonica, piano, or pedal steel. “Foreverly” is loose, fun and totally sincere. Coincidentally, this is the third set of Everly Brothers covers this year, following a creaky charmer from Bonnie “Prince” Billy & Dawn McCarthy, and a beautifully somber one from the Chapin Sisters.

—Steve Klinge

SKY FERREIRA “Night Time, My Time” (Capitol, 3 stars)

Sky Ferreira isn’t the first 21-year-old fashion model to turn her attentions from the runway to the musical stage. Lord knows, she won’t be the last. Yet for several years she’s been touted (mostly by her label, which signed Sky when she was 15) as a sultrier, smokier Britney Spears, and therefore the salvation of young adult electro-pop. The edginess that makes her so dynamic was implied by associations with risqué photographer Terry Richardson and a beau arrested for carrying heroin.

Luckily, Ferreira delivers the sad bad-girl goods with bugged-out ease, from top (the topless shower-scene album cover) to bottom (the bass-heavy new wave of “Love in Stereo”). The industrial clang of “Omanko” is like a beautiful woman with awful shoes — pure pop with an ugly noisy ambience. The oversize guitars and crackling beats of “You’re Not the One” handsomely complement Ferreira’s clear, corrosive voice. She may come across on occasion like a Cat Power impersonator, especially on the dreary title track and the worrisome “Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay).” But she turns that on its ear with the chipper “Kristine,” poking at poseurs of all stripes.

—A.D. Amorosi

KELLIE PICKLER “The Woman I Am” (Black River, 3 stars)

On the title song of her new album, Kellie Pickler paints herself as both a tough broad, stubborn and proud, and one who sometimes cries at night — a woman who can “fall to pieces with Patsy Cline.” It’s a portrait that plays out over the former American Idol contestant’s fourth album.

“The Woman I Am” has more mainstream-country polish than last year’s career peak, “100 Proof.” The guitars get cranked louder and harder on the rocking numbers, for instance, and songs such as “Little Bit Gypsy” and “Bonnie and Clyde” have a more generic feel to them. (Pickler doesn’t write as much here as she did on “100 Proof.”) Still, she cuts an appealingly convincing, and country, figure as she moves from a celebration of her great-grandmother on “Selma Drye” to the vengeful glee of “Ring for Sale” and the quiet introspection of “Tough All Over.”

—Nick Cristiano

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