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It’s been a mere five years ago since Norah Jones’ debut album, Come Away With Me, took the world by storm – reaching multi-platinum sales in less than a year and winning a whopping eight Grammy Awards in 2003. She then followed this massively successful album with the equally impressive Feels Like Home. This year sees Norah Jones return with her third studio outing, Not Too Late, and again it seems Ms Jones is making history: It has not only become the most pre-ordered album in the history of, but entered the charts at number one in 15 different countries during its first week of release. It’s therefore safe to assume that the success of Come Away With Me was no fluke. In fact Norah Jones is a rather brilliant musician with Not Too Late her first album on which she has written or co-written all of the tracks. Songs worth listening out for include the tender Wish I Could, The Sun Doesn’t Like You, Until The End, Wake Me Up and the hopeful title track, Not Too Late. In general I found the album to not be as instantly likeable as say Come Away With Me. This not necessarily a bad thing because it forces you to shut out the world around you and pay more attention – effort which will be richly rewarded. You’ll realise that Not Too Late is a much more personal album than her previous work, revealing more about Norah Jones as a person and making it a journey well worth remembering.


Marketed and distributed by Gallo Record Company

It was back in 2005 when Mambaonline reviewed Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, the second album by American band My Chemical Romance. Billed as the must-have rock album of that year, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge continued in the vein of their debut album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love as a meditation on immortality; exploring the story of a man, a woman and the corpses of a thousand evil men. Their new album, The Black Parade, however is a meditation on mortality. It is grandiose in its concept, and unless you understand (or even like) the rock opera genre, it probably won’t make a lot of sense to you. In general, Black Parade is loud, fast and continues in the violent, edgy pop tradition of their previous work – except that it’s a much better CD. First single, Welcome To The Black Parade, is phenomenal and serves as a perfect introduction to the album. New single, Famous Last Words, is equally brilliant, with tracks like The Sharpest Lives, I Don’t Love You, Mama, Teenagers and Disenchanted all vying for the best-track spot. However, it’s the piano-driven Cancer – as direct as it is in its account of such a death – that morbidly stands out because of its honesty and sensitivity. The Black Parade is simply awesome. Loud and extremely epic in approach, it’s about making the most of every moment because you never know when the end will come. My Chemical Romance is – yet again – the rock band to beat in 2007.


Marketed and distributed by EMI Music SA

Jesse McCartney’s debut album, Beautiful Soul, was one of my favourites of 2005; the mixed bag of enjoyable pop songs proved that Jesse wasn’t just another good-looking blonde boy trying to be a star. The now-even-more-gorgeous 19 year old Jesse returned late last year with a new album, with the title-track and first single Right Where You Want Me. From the moment you press ‘play’ it’s evident that this ride will be quite different from Beautiful Soul. It offers a more funk-rock sound although the ballads that made Beautiful Soul so special are still there, albeit less so. Of these slower tracks, few come close to the simple honesty of Just So You Know. As for the rest of the tracks on the album, they are decidedly more mature and at certain points give Maroon5 a run for their money – just take a listen to the fantastic Feelin’ You. Right Where You Want Me is another example of this new approach, with Blow Your Mind, Can’t Let You Go and We Can Go Anywhere also worth a mention. While Jesse manages to sound at times remarkably like Adam Levine from Maroon5, he also adds a more emotional edge. He might be currently filed within the same category as someone like Hillary Duff (read: teen music) but I don’t see how Jesse can stay in that box for very long. Right Where You Want Me is a major progression. And let’s face it: he’s way hotter than Adam Levine…


Marketed and distributed by EMI Music SA

When the Spice Girls’ started drifting into oblivion and before Sugababes became (by default) the only really noteworthy British girl-group, All Saints were the tougher, less-girly and much cooler band to which you could pledge your allegiance. Their self-titled debut album put the girls firmly on the pop map, while their second disc, Saints & Sinners, merely confirmed their popularity. This was before their acrimonious split in 2001. Fast forward to late 2006, when the girls reunited and released their third album, Studio 1. All Saints remain true to their original sound whilst sounding eerily up to date. I say eerily because Studio 1 sees them incorporate a number of musical influences not previously associated with All Saints: funk, ‘60s soul, reggae and ska feature in a rather brilliant way. First single, Rock Steady, is a decidedly catchy tune, and current single, Chick Fit, perfectly displays their pop edginess. Shaznay Lewis still features prominently as the lead singer, but Mel Blatt, and especially the Appleton sisters, thankfully feature as well. Not Eazy is a ridiculously catchy reggae track that pays tribute to the dancehalls of Jamaica (where Studio 1 is situated), while One Me And U is a pure pop masterpiece. The distinctive and familiar harmonies are all in place, Shaznay Lewis’s knack for a slinky melody is undimmed and the production is as polished as ever thanks to Rick Nowells. Studio 1 is delightfully different from the crappy pop we’re often forced to listen to. It might not be flying up the sales charts, but is a surprisingly accomplished and promising return.


Marketed and distributed by Gallo Record Company

I have to admit that I am baffled as to why it has taken me so long to discover Nerina Pallot, who might easily be dismissed as yet another angsty female singer-songwriter. However, you would be making a mistake to let Fires pass you by. It features only 46 minutes worth of music, but in those minutes you’ll be cracking a smile, feeling inspired, shedding a tear and will come very close to feeling your heart break – that is how honest her music is. There is a purity and innocence to it that catches you off-guard, while her intelligence smacks you in the face. It’s lyrically phenomenal an

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