CD reviews: Meghan Trainor, Mark Ronson, Thompson

“Title,” by Meghan Trainor

There’s plenty to like about Meghan Trainor’s first full-length album, “Title.” The set, which includes music from a previously released EP of the same name, serves up all the doo-wop sass that hooked fans on the singer-songwriter’s Grammy-nominated hit, “All About That Bass.”

Jump to almost any track on “Title” and you’ll find a similar juxtaposition of cheeky lyrics stamped over malt shop-inspired production. Unfortunately, therein lies the problem: by album’s end, it seems Trainor and “Title” producer Kevin Kadish have beaten their brand of shooby-doo flavor to death.

Sure, the throwback vibe has worked to set Trainor, 21, apart from her radio competition, and the sound works on second single “Lips Are Movin’ ” and “Dear Future Husband.” But too much of that good thing turns out to be bad for the singer’s mainstream debut.

“Title” is still worth a listen, though doing so in one sitting is ill-advised. Trainor is the funny girl next door on “Walkashame”; she’s an example of self-acceptance on “Close Your Eyes”; and she’s admirable, refusing to be friend-zoned, on the relatable title track.

When Trainor reaches, however, the results are painful. “Had him brushing his teeth, even flossin’/ got him looking like Ryan Gosling,” she raps on “Credit.” The cringe-worthy lyrics are rivaled only by that on the horn-heavy “Bang Dem Sticks.”

Perhaps the most refreshing song from “Title” is the subdued “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” featuring John Legend. Not only is it a nice change of pace sonically, but in a rare moment, the track gives Trainor’s vocals the main stage, without a catchy hook or quirky production yanking away the spotlight.

By Melanie J. Sims, Associated Press

Mark Ronson’s new album, “Uptown Special,” opens with such promising notes — Stevie Wonder’s harmonica, playing so soulful and slow that the listener can’t help but settle in, ready and waiting for what’s sure to be an exhilarating musical story.

Sadly, you’ll be kept waiting. That’s not to say there isn’t some good music on Ronson’s fourth effort, because there is. But “Uptown Special” feels chaotic, moving from sound to sound in a way that feels haphazard.

The songs don’t hit the listener in a connected way, but as if Ronson just put together a bunch of tracks that sounded cool to him. That’s fine, but with a little more curation, the music might have been transcendent.

There are undoubtedly songs the listener will want to hear again. The lead single, “Uptown Funk” with Bruno Mars, has taken over the charts with its catchy beat that almost dares you to stay still. “I Can’t Lose” is another one that gets your toes tapping, and “Leaving Los Feliz” has a sweet sway to it.

Grammy-winning Ronson, who has produced for top-notch acts from Amy Winehouse to Adele to Paul McCartney, has an obvious affinity for old-school sounds. It’s just not enough to make this album special.

By Deepti Hajela, Associated Press

The dynamics of this supremely talented musical family range far beyond pianissimo and forte.

Teddy Thompson, who spearheaded the “Family” project, exaggerates only a tad when he describes his parents in the opening lyrics. “My father is one of the greats to ever step on the stage; My mother has the most beautiful voice in the world.”

Thing is, Richard and Linda Thompson split in 1982, when Teddy was 6. Both parents long ago remarried, but Teddy decided a family album would help with healing, even 32 years later.

And so we have a song contest that is confessional, collaborative and competitive. Teddy, his sister Kami, Richard and Linda contribute two compositions each, while Teddy’s brother Jack and nephew Zak Hobbs provide one apiece. Family members take turns pitching in with instrumental support and backing vocals via long-distance overdubs.

The result: lots of good listening and fodder for therapists. Richard and Teddy each perform a kiss-off song. Linda offers tender counsel to her male progeny. Teddy rates one sister as prettier than his other. Kami longs for solitude.

Toward the end, Richard serves up a non sequitur, “That’s Enough,” a protest song that rails against the one-percenters. Eight relatives sing backing vocals, and, at least musically, family harmony is finally achieved.

By Steven Wine, Associated Press