Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Airwave Blog 2: Latest from Hilary Duff and DJ Tiesto

In the most dignified way possible, "Dignity" (Hollywood Records)--the title track to this fizz-bomb of a dance-pop disc--sends a disgusted eye-roll and a flagrant puh-lease to underwear-eschewing celebutantes everywhere: "You'd show up to the opening of an envelope," sings Hilary Duff, who hangs onto her signature sweetness despite having entered full-on diss mode.

And sung. Not that calling out the phony and the full of it is what Duff, or Dignity, is all about. Mostly, the disc is a beat-studded chronicling of an incredibly healthy 19-year-old psyche: On "Happy," she's happy despite an ex's attempts to make her miserable; on "With Love"--maybe her catchiest, most grown-up song to date--she's willing to accept rejection as long as kindness plays a role in its delivery.

Musically, with the help of groove-conscious producers like Tim & Bob and, Duff edges ever closer to adult sensibilities; her goofball Lizzie McGuire days seem far behind. It's an evolution anybody could have seen coming, actually. Has there ever been a starlet with her head on straighter?

1. Stranger
2. Dignity
3. With Love
4. Danger
5. Gypsy Woman
6. Never Stop
7. No Work, All Play
8. Between You And Me
9. Dreamer
10. Happy
11. Burned
12. Outside Of You
13. I Wish
14. Play With Fire

Rating: 3 out of 5

Tiësto sticks to his guns on a new album of original compositions that follows 2004's Just Be. Elements of Life strikes a satisfying balance between inventive vocal tracks and signature trance stormers: "Ten Seconds Before Sunrise," "Driving to Heaven," and "Bright Morning Star" all glow with the Dutchman's epic sound, one that is simultaneously haunting and uplifting.

On the vocal side, the soaring energy of "Break My Fall," which features BT on vocals, will not disappoint fans of the duo's prior work on "Just Be" and other collaborations. To be sure, there are a number of less convincing pieces as well: "Dance4Life" with Faithless's Maxi Jazz falls flat, and the lyrics of "Can You Feel Me" prove that the genre's reputation for banal wordsmithing is not entirely undeserved.

For the most part, however, these weaker moments are outweighed by the stronger tracks. Principal among these is undoubtedly "Sweet Things"--in which Charlotte Martin's vocal high-wire act is complemented by some exceptional programming--a track that is sure to receive a great many spins by DJs around the globe and yet further proof that when it comes to bringing alive the female voice for the dancefloor, Tiësto remains without equal.

All in all, it's a safe bet that many of Tiësto's Elements of Life (Ultra Records) will be making their way into DJ crates and MP3 players alike.

1. Ten Seconds Before Sunrise
2. Everything (featuring JES)
3. Do You Feel Me (featuring Julie Thompson)
4. Carpe Noctum
5. Driving To Heaven
6. Sweet Things (featuring Charlotte Martin)
7. Bright Morningstar
8. Break My Fall (featuring BT)
9. In The Dark (featuring Christian Burns)
10. Dance4Life (featuring Maxi Jazz)
11. Elements Of Life Bonustrack : He's A Pirate (Tiësto Remix)

Rating: 5 out of 5

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