Reviews of CDs by Fuel, Terry Allen and Pope John Paul II 

CD Reviews

Fuel, "Sunburn"Terry Allen, "Salivation"Pope John Paul II, "Abb… Pater"
Play These Songs"Shimmer""Jesus Or A Gun""Sunburn"

Real Audio RequiredFuel, "Sunburn"(550 Music) — Riding on a wave of success generated by their runaway hit single, the poignant and gritty "Shimmer," the guys who put Harrisburg, Pa., on the musical map have a lot to celebrate these days. Not only are they in the midst of a heavy tour including their second visit to Europe and first headlining North American tour, but Fuel's debut album, "Sunburn," has been certified gold and hit the No. 1 slot on Billboard's "Heatseekers" chart.

"Sunburn" consists of 11 compelling tracks of hard-edged but strikingly melodic rock born from the inner struggles of singer/songwriter/guitarist Carl Bell. Edgy, raw and explosive tracks such as "Untitled" and "Jesus or a Gun" address the unfortunately timely issue of aggression and how to channel it.

The first single, "Shimmer," currently the No. 1 most-played track on modern rock radio, and the album's title track more melodically capture the vulnerability expressed in Bell's lyrics and vocals. The rest of the album features an angrier, more guitar-heavy sound. Fuel performs at Trax in Charlottesville on Tuesday, May 11. — Carrie Nieman

Play These Songs"Salvation""Billy The Boy""X-Mas On The Isthmus"

Real Audio RequiredTerry Allen, "Salivation" (Sugar Hill) — Songwriter Terry Allen's latest effort is one long delightful shot at the status quo. Never afraid to rip musical holes in the sacred and the secular, Allen mixes Texas folk and rock, Middle Eastern textures, hoe-down swing and plaintive ballads into a fine set of tunes for those looking for the left-of-center.

Allen has influenced a raft of great musicians and writers from Jimmie Dale Gilmore to Joe Ely. On "Salivation" he shows his own kinship with Guy Clark as he crafts tunes of detail and affection. "Billy the Boy" roams restless Southwestern roads under lonely stars, while his tribute to his dad tells us he "lived it out/until he died/cussin' the Yankees/ ah, satisfied." "X-mas on the Isthmus," co-written with Clark takes a comical tuba-tooting look at a particularly desperate holiday season.

"Salivation" is unique and highly recommended for fans of singer-songwriter types. Bring your sense of humor and expect the straight stuff. — Ames Arnold

Play These Songs"Cercate Il Suo Volto""Cristo E Liberazione""Abba Pater"

Real Audio RequiredPope John Paul II, "Abb… Pater" (Sony Classical) — I must admit that my desire to hear this CD was based solely on curiosity rather than spirituality. The notion of the pope recording a CD ... well, surely it is a sign that the end of the world is near. However, when I popped this recording into my CD player on a recent car trip, my mind was transported far beyond the confines of my Honda.

A montage of classical music, contemporary instrumentals and world music paired with religious singing and archival recordings of the pope from the past 20 years, "Abb… Pater" is a unique sonic experience. The pope speaks in five languages, so unless you are a linguist, chances are that much of the words' meaning will pass you by. However, the uplifting music and the passion with which the words are delivered will not. When the pope breaks into a joyful rendition of the "Our Father" in Latin in the middle of the title track, no translation is necessary.

Although it seemingly is recorded at a low level (you really have to crank it up) and some of the music, especially the "world beat" segments, is blandly generic, "Abb… Pater" fulfills its stated mission as a tool to help listeners, whatever their religion or native tongue, travel on an "interior pilgrimage." — Jessica Ronky Haddad

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