Bruno Mars - Doo-Wops and Hooligans *****
Bruno Mars burst on to the pop charts last year with a double numberone whammy with his single Just The Way You Are, as well as with BoB onNothin' On You. Before that, we may have been unaware of theHawaiianborn singer-songwriter, whose real name is Peter Hernandez. Opening with radio-friendly Grenade, which then leads into the soulful Our First Time and the toe-tapping Runaway Baby, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, never fails to surprise. There are hints of Hawaiian-style in The Lazy Song, Count On Me and Liquor Store Blues with Damian Marley, and closing track The Other Side, featuring Cee Lo Green and BoB, is pure pleasure.
Tu Fawning - Hearts On Hold ****
THE first full length collaboration betweenJoe Haege (of 31Knots) and Corrina Repp is a natural. After a number ofyears appearing on each other's albums, they have produced a fusion.Multiply A House, a slow-paced opener, is followed by The Felt Sensewhich shares a lot of the vocal style of its predecessor, but deliveredat a sprint. The style is all their own with piano, horns and violinseach finding a voice while mixing with a variety of rhythms.
James Rhodes - Bullets & Lullabies ****
BEFORE its physical release, JamesRhodes's second album Bullets & Lullabies shot to the top of theiTunes classical chart. There is no tedious crossover classical here,just Rhodes playing fast, virtuoso pieces by Beethoven and Chopin with some more intense Debussy, Brahms and Rachmaninov. Rhodes proves that neither listener nor musician have to be stuffy to enjoy music played with passion.
Mark Olsen - Many Coloured Kite ****
American country singer-songwriter Mark Olson's second solo release Many Colored Kite is a cracker, with his low-key musings on life and love proving a hugely rewarding listen which gets better with every play. The undoubted highlight is No Time To Live Without Her which features veteran British folk singer Vashti Bunyan to winning effect. Opener Little Bird Of Freedom sets the tone with a low key acoustic guitar and Olson's downbeat vocals coming to the fore. Excellent all round.