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Intoxicating tunes of ‘Humming’ go right to the heart

From wire reports

Laura Cantrell

“Humming by the Flowered Vine” (Matador) ••••

When a little-known musician gets raves early in her career from the likes of Elvis Costello and the late, great British DJ John Peel, you’d best take notice.

Contemporary country vocalist Laura Cantrell is capitalizing on that cult-hero acclaim with her third release, an exquisite collection of originals and covers that’s evocative and intoxicating from start to finish.

Lucinda Williams is probably the first person you’ll think of when you hear Cantrell’s bell-clear voice, so it might not be a coincidence that she honors her musical mentor by covering Williams’ previously unreleased “Letters.”

The album’s title comes from “Bees,” a tune written from the perspective of a dying person who mourns: “I miss the bees/I miss the honey/I miss them humming by the flowered vine.”

Accompanied by a crew of top-drawer musicians, including members of Americana bands Ollabelle and Calexico, Cantrell has delivered an album filled with longing and reflection that goes right to the heart.

Martin Bandyke, Detroit Free Press

Stephen Malkmus

“Face the Truth” (Matador) •••

Pavement fans, rejoice! The third solo disc from Stephen Malkmus, the former frontman for the defunct indie band, is a freewheeling, humorous carnival of lo-fi aesthetics and classic rock chops. In other words, it sounds just like a Pavement album.

The meandering prog tendencies of Malkmus’ previous record, “Pig Lib,” have been trimmed and sculpted, leaving a collection of skewed pop songs that sprawl in all the right places.

“No More Shoes” seems much shorter than its eight minutes, as Malkmus and his backing band the Jicks take off from a sing-songy melody into a Sonic Youth-style space jam. The sweet, breezy love song “Freeze the Saints” recalls Pavement’s “Major Leagues,” and the snarky kiss-off “Post-Paint Boy” could be the sequel to that band’s “Range Life.” This should tide us over until the reunion.

Amy Phillips, Philadelphia Inquirer

Kelly Osbourne

“Sleeping in the Nothing” (Sanctuary) ••

Before she checked into rehab again, Kelly Osbourne left us with this curious artifact.

Chillier and more machine-tooled than her debut, “Sleeping in the Nothing” has an ‘80s synth-pop flavor. At times, Osbourne’s adopted style veers into pretension, as on “One Word.” But for the most part, it fits her reasonably well, in large part because of veteran producer Linda Perry (Pink, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani).

Make no mistake; this is a producer’s album. Osbourne’s voice is more processed than a Twinkie.

David Hiltbrand, Philadelphia Inquirer

Brian Eno

“Another Day on Earth” (Hannibal/Rykodisc) ••• 1/2

Though he’s famed for revolutionizing the ambient soundscape, Brian Eno’s gabby, singing side has been in cold storage too long.

The avant-glam of “Here Come the Warm Jets” (1973) and the soft prog-tronica of “Another Green World” (1975) showed him to be weird, witty and Dadaist as a lyricist and singer. Now, for his first vocals in 15 years, Eno supplely veers toward the hypnotic minimalism of “World.” On mossy, midtempo atmospheres, his double-tracked cackle blends seamlessly with distant high hats, rhythmic ricochets and spiraling guitars.

Yet unlike anything in Eno’s past, this world is gently unalien, its clarity helping songs like “Bottomliners” and “This” to stand out vocally and lyrically. This jet is very warm indeed.

A.D. Amorosi, Philadelphia Inquirer

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