The best new music of the week: Hilary Duff, Nate Ruess and more

By Nicholas Jennings

As music columnist for hellomagazine.ca, each week I’ll bring you my selections for the best and most notable new music, albums you’re going to want to add to your collection plus a five-song playlist to try out. Happy listening!

Scroll down for playlist…

BEST NEW ALBUMS:

Hilary DuffBreathe In, Breathe Out
It’s been a lifetime, in pop culture terms, since Hilary starred in Disney’s hit TV series Lizzie McGuire - and it’s been relatively ages (five years) since she released a new album. Much has happened to the singer-actress in the interim: a beautiful baby boy, a divorce from hockey star Mike Comrie and the new TV series Younger. Her fifth album finds the 27-year-old star purging her romantic pain and moving on in songs like “Brave Heart” and “Tattoo,” co-written with Ed Sheeran. But it’s not all downbeat. There are also plenty of bouncy, optimistic Katy Perry-style pop numbers such as “Sparks” and “Confetti.”

Nate RuessGrand Romantic
The fun. frontman is best when channeling Freddie Mercury’s versatile voice and infectious swagger. Nate’s solo debut is the Queen album he never quite got to make with fun. The title track is a sweeping confessional with harps, violins, changing tempos and grandiose operatic overtones. “AhHa” is even quirkier, with a thumping beat, sneering schoolyard chants and a soaring chorus. Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy lends a guitar solo to “Take It Back” and Beck joins him on “I Guess That’s What the World is Coming To.” The album’s highlight is Ruess at his vulnerable best on “Nothing Without Love,” which builds to a thrilling peak, not unlike fun.’s classic “We Are Young.”

OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES:

James TaylorBefore This World
At 67, the “Fire and Rain” man still has his vocal chops intact and no shortage of fresh song ideas to showcase on his 17th album - from the wistful “Montana” and devotional love song “You and I Again” to nostalgic baseball ode “Angels of Fenway” and an inspired take on the Scottish folk classic “Wild Mountain Thyme.”

Adam LambertThe Original High
Adam's third album shows how the former American Idol contestant, known for his over-the-top delivery, has learned to do more with less, especially on the moody “Ghost Town,” the stirring piano ballad “There I Said It” and the falsetto-drenched title track, all of which show admirable restraint.

Walk Off the EarthSing It All Away
The viral sensations from Burlington, Ont. continue to deliver huge dollops of ear candy on their sophomore album, with pop nuggets like the anthemic, reggae-flavoured “Rule the World” and the galloping, dance-driven “Home We’ll Go (Take My Hand)," featuring superstar DJ Steve Aoki.

PLAYLIST OF THE WEEK

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