New albums from Clay Aiken and Tift Merritt

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Since it’s a short workweek, the music industry’s release schedule is pretty light. Two albums this week are from North Carolinians, one with covers of classics, and one with superb originals by a singer/songwriter.

imageClay Aiken
“Tried and True”

If you like a hefty helping of schmaltz to go with your gay, then this is the album for you. On his fifth album since coming in second on Season 2 of “American Idol,” Clay Aiken offers up classics from the ‘50s and ‘60s with a retro cover look to go with it.

“Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” and “Moon River” (featuring Vice Gill) are the best cuts off the album, by far. Of special note to gay listeners, Linda Eder duets with Aiken on “Crying,” so if you go for that kind of thing, check it out.

Sadly, the rest just sound like another theme night on “Idol”—and not a good one. While the album probably will not be the best selling of his career, the gay dad will probably sell well among the set who are still buying his albums, especially the older, conservative ones who can’t help but like him even after he came out. For them, Amazon offers a CD/DVD set with “Who’s Sorry Now” and “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” as bonus tracks.

imageTift Merritt
“See You on the Moon”

Gifted singer/songwriter Merritt enlisted acclaimed producer Tucker Martine to help her head back home to North Carolina and record this personal album. Lead single “Mixtape” is a little pop and a little country. The album on the whole is country but with a solid folksy feel to Merritt’s writing and a hint of pop sensibility to Martine’s production.

In addition to excellent original material, Merritt includes two first-rate covers: Emitt Rhodes’ “Live ‘Till You Die” and Kenny Loggins’ “Danny’s Song.”

If you are not familiar with Merritt, definitely check out this album to discover a clear voice and a solid talent to be reckoned with, both as a singer and a songwriter. From start to finish, “See You on the Moon” is intimate and superb.

imageProfessional fraternity man by day and roving entertainment reporter by night, Buck Cooke moved to Atlanta in 2000. Armed with a passion for pop culture and rabid appetite for music, Buck scours the entertainment landscape for treasures in music, TV and cinema.

Of course, supporting your local gay retailers with your hard-copy music purchases is always encouraged. Remember Brushstrokes and Outwrite when you’re out shopping for CDs, DVDs and other gay sundries. Both places are great about orders for out-of-stock items, too.

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