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QUICK SPINS: April 2011

Brett Dennen, Roxanne Potvin and Eliza Doolittle

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* Brett DennenLoverboy (Dualtone)

To play music that makes people dance — that’s what singer/songwriter Brett Dennen says he realized he wanted to do while touring behind 2008’s Hope for the Hopeless, the best album of his career. Loverboy (out now), the almost-as-good follow-up, will never be mistaken for a disco album, but it does contain material that should get feet moving and bodies swaying, such as “Dancing at a Funeral” and “Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog).” Dennen also successfully broadens his scope and sound a little more by incorporating horns on a bunch of songs, among them the reggae-flavored “Can’t Stop Thinking.”
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* Roxanne PotvinPlay (Black Hen Music)

It isn’t easy to shine a piece of crap. But damn if Montreal-based singer/songwriter Roxanne Potvin doesn’t do a good job making Right Said Fred‘s campy “I’m Too Sexy” listenable by giving it some vocal sass and, along with her supporting cast, a sturdy instrumental foundation. Potvin writes everything else that’s on Play (out now), and she’s in her wheelhouse when the atmosphere is dreamy and the tempo is seemingly in slow motion. Highlights include “Born to Win,” “Donnes Ton Mal” and “Seashells.”
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* Eliza DoolittleEliza Doolittle (Capitol)

Like her labelmate and fellow England native Corinne Bailey Rae, singer Eliza Doolittle has one foot in the smoother side of classic soul/R&B and the other in 1960s pop. Thanks to a small team of producers, Doolittle’s self-titled Capitol debut (out now) is a blend of classic and modern sounds, and her enthusiasm really shines through on the more upbeat, melodic singalongs, among them “Moneybox,” “Skinny Genes” and “Mr. Medicine.” But Doolittle — who’s only in her early 20s — shows some real depth and range in the ballad “So High.”

— By Chris M. Junior