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Mama’s Gun
Erykah Badu

Fans of Miss Badu have been eagerly awaiting her second album of new material ever since the success of Baduizm in 1997. Sure, she released a live album that included the single “Tyrone,” and collaborated with hip-hop artists like The Roots, Common and Guru, but Mama’s Gun has been a long time coming. There are legitimate reasons for this extended wait—the birth of a son, Seven, and a role in Lasse Halleström’s The Cider House Rules. Mama’s Gun reflects a more mature Badu; still incredibly spiritual, yet in a deeper way that comes, perhaps, with motherhood. The tracks on this album are also more inherently sexual, while retaining the romantic poignancy of earlier tracks like "Next Lifetime." The entire album has a jazzier feel to it, with more horns and barer percussion. Standout tracks are the funky "Kiss Me On My Neck," the cheeky "Booty," the very sexy "Orange Moon," and the beautifully simple "I'm In Love With You," a duet with Stephen Marley, who sounds exactly like his father. If you're looking for the radio version of the first single "Bag Lady", however, you won't hear it on Mama's Gun. According to the liner notes, there wasn't enough room for that mix, but it is available on the website. Mama's Gun is a fine sophomore album, but it's quiet release and lack of airplay may lead you to believe it's not worthy. This couldn't be farther from the truth. It's a solid, thoroughly enjoyable listen, perfect for seduction or relaxation, or whatever tickles your fanny.

—Alicia Cox

White Ladder
David Gray

I want to run away with David Gray. This Irish sensation has finally broken into the North American music scene with his fourth album, White Ladder, an album that immediately strikes a nerve in your system and you just can’t get enough of it.

Gray made his recording debut with the 1993 album, A Century Ends, 1994’s Flesh and 1996’s Sell, Sell, Sell but all were virtually ignored by the American music-buying public.

When you listen to Gray, you immediately think him to be a cross between Bob Dylan and James, with a recognizable, soothing voice that’s sweet like honey and lingers in your mind even after the CD ends.

His music is relaxing and moving and his wonderful songwriting runs right through this album which is perhaps what holds it together so well. The piano in the hopeful love songs “This Year’s Love” and “Sail Away” adds to the feelings of love and lament that Gray tries to capture through his lyrics.

The album’s hit single, “Babylon,” is the first of a series of hits to come for Gray’s innovative and original style. White Ladder is striking, experimental, and fresh. Buy it.

—Natalia Diaz

Sleepy Little Sailor
Oh Susanna

Sleepy Little Sailor, the new disc from Suzie Ungerleider, a.k.a Oh Susanna, uses previously explored traditional country elements as a base upon which to build new layers of blues and rock.

Some of it works extremely well—the title track and the slow burner “Sacrifice” are both haunting exhibitions of Ungerleider’s almost spookily melancholy voice. When Sleepy Little Sailor, however, drifts too far from its moorings, the results are mixed. “River Blue” is an accomplished attempt at rockish New Country, but the question remains whether anyone really wants to hear it.

Although an adequately engaging effort, Sleepy Little Sailor ultimately comes off as a disappointment, lacking the old-country heartache used so effectively on Ungerleider’s older, more pastoral material.

—Joel McConvey

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