LISTENING STATION: Nothing succeeds like excess

Ballads Beyonce-style on “4”

In this CD cover image released by Columbia Records, the latest release by Beyonce, "4," is shown. (AP Photo/Columbia Records)In this CD cover image released by Columbia Records, the latest release by Beyonce, “4,” is shown. (AP Photo/Columbia Records)
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Four of the album’s songs were co-written by Miss Faithfull herself, but she fares better as an interpreter of other people’s work. She strips the Shangri-Las’ “Past, Present and Future” of its gauzy camp and performs “Goin’ Back,” famously recorded by the Byrds and Dusty Springfield, with understated grace. Her cracked voice is still an acquired taste, but she wears its imperfections proudly, turning what could be a career-killing croak into a thing of odd, unlikely beauty.

This Loud Morning

David Cook

RCA

Also looking to age well is David Cook, the “American Idol” champion from 2008. On his second major-label release, he mines a familiar batch of post-grunge epics and tough-guy ballads.

His vocals may be spot-on. However, divorced from the hype that followed his own “American Idol” finale, Mr. Cook sounds more anonymous than ever before. The hooks are likewise absent, making “This Loud Morning” something of a quiet flop.

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