NowStreaming: Black Sabbath / Calum Scott / Scotty McCreery

Black Sabbath / The End

How does the world’s greatest heavy metal band bid farewell? By delivering a kick-ass performance, of course. Recorded on Feb. 4, 2017, in Birmingham, England, The End captures the original Black Sabbath lineup (minus drummer Bill Ward) playing to their hometown crowd and giving their so-called final performance. You can no longer tell nowadays with most bands — especially with Ozzy about to embark on his second solo “farewell” tour — but if this is indeed their last gig together, they certainly went out on a high note.

Given their age, you might think Ozzy and the boys couldn’t pull off a career-defining performance, but they apparently had other ideas and put together a blistering show. All of the classic Sabbath songs are included in this almost two-hour set, from radio staple “War Pigs” and the iconic “Iron Man” to fan favorites “Snowblind” and the instrumental “Rat Salad.” Drummer Tommy Clufetos fits right in and gels with his older bandmates while keeping the energy going.

The only real gripe with this release is the sound quality. There’s a muddy tone that gives off a clunky and muffled vibe at times. But that’s not to say that the band’s execution is clunky — quite the contrary. Geezer Butler nails the intro to “N.I.B” and Tony Iommi is stellar throughout. And Ozzy? Ozzy is Ozzy, and that says it all.

It’s sad to see the pioneers of heavy metal hang it up, but at the same time, it’s a blessing for them and their fans to be able to say a proper goodbye. The End is not just the end of Black Sabbath, it’s a celebration.

For more information, visit blacksabbath.com.

Jason Savio

 

Calum Scott / Only Human

Since his emotional rendering of Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” on Britain’s Got Talent in 2015 (immediately after his sister had been eliminated), fans have been eagerly awaiting Calum Scott’s debut album. Whether the BGT audience thought he might get a sympathy vote thrown his way didn’t matter: Calum Scott brought it, sang it, slayed it and wrapped it up with a big red bow. There was no question: This guy could sing.

He proves so again and again on Only Human, the album three years in the making that proves to be his calling card as a singer on the cusp of a long and fulfilling career. Whether it’s a gorgeous duet with Leona Lewis (“You Are the Reason”) or his soaring single “What I Miss Most,” it’s clear Scott has got the pipes to wow, particularly because it’s paired with his raspy-yet-velvety voice. Each song he sings resonates because of his precise enunciation and the emotional depth he brings to every word that escapes his lips.

Reminiscent of Chris Martin, Adam Levine or even Ed Sheeran, Calum Scott is a vocalist who raises this playing field another notch or two. The album is packed with gorgeous ballads from start to finish, and while that may seem limiting, it’s because that’s his comfort zone and what’s in his wheelhouse right now. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the artist that lies within. If the committed voice and poignant storytelling on Only Human is any indication, Scott’s journey has truly just begun.

For more information, visit calumscott.com or check him out on Instagram or Twitter @calumscott.

Mike Wood

 

Scotty McCreery / Seasons Change

To continue on with my fairly recent exploration of country music, I was drawn to Scotty McCreery’s new album, Seasons Change. Scotty, who won the 10th season of American Idol, hasn’t put a record out in about five years, but this was worth the wait. There is a lot of personality in this album, which is focused on accepting your true self and discovering what is important to you. The journey it takes to get to this place often comes with its struggles and learning experiences, and McCreery has clearly been down this road.

His smooth tone and subtle twang guide us through different stories and realizations. Though many of today’s country stars have crossed into the realm of pop and R&B, this album seems like a truly down-home, country one, but it’s not so old school that it doesn’t fit with the mainstream. Songs like “Boys from Back Home” and “Still” seem to bring us along and introduce us to people who have held importance and songs like his hit, “Five More Minutes,” and “This Is It” force us to consider the simplest things as worth a deeper notice.

The song that stood out the most for me is “Barefootin’.” This song has a super relaxed vibe and delves into his deeper vocal register. It brings you to a boardwalk somewhere near the ocean with a cold beer in your hand, being vacation-brained with someone you’re digging and getting away from reality completely…and who isn’t ready for that about now?!

All in all, a very solid album that I think will stand time’s test in the country world. It’s an honest album that doesn’t set out to be trendy. It just gives a good look at the humble nature of Scotty and his music.

For more information, visit scottymccreery.com.

Jennifer Russo

 

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