Mini music reviews -- Some brief thoughts of new albums by Ciara, Ben Harper, Conor Oberst, and more

Mini music reviews

Fantasy Ride
Ride spends a lot of time in the car-pool lane, with guests like Justin Timberlake (”Love Sex Magic”) and Ludacris (”High Price,” a slinky, if lyrically obnoxious, ode to acquisitiveness). Still, her solo turn on the morning-after ballad ”I Don’t Remember” hints at something deeper under the high-gloss sheen. BLeah Greenblatt

The Boxmasters
Boxmaster Billy Bob Thornton’s recent radio meltdown begged to be heard over and over. The same can’t be said of this unmemorable collection, the band’s third album in less than a year. Note to Hollywood: Keep this guy busier. CClark Collis

Ben Harper and Relentless7
White Lies for Dark Times
Harper’s new band makes a fabulous racket, and the singer himself sounds reenergized on the soulful likes of ”Lay There and Hate Me.” B+Clark Collis

The artist formerly known as Cat Stevens hasn’t lost his knack for melody. But with clunkers like ”When I hold your hand I could fly a zillion miles with you,” he could use a lyrical refresher course. B-Mikael Wood

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band
Outer South
Fans used to the intimacy of Oberst’s earlier work may be flummoxed by the collaborative Traveling Wilburys vibe here, but they’ll find it again on the elegant, mournful ”White Shoes.” BLeah Greenblatt

Richard Goode
Beethoven: The Complete Piano Concertos
This sublime set reaffirms Goode’s authority with the early Romantics. Each is so lethally realized we nearly overlook the little miracles Ivan Fischer conjures up with the Budapest Festival Orchestra. ABryant Manning