Critic’s Notebook: Shooter Jennings, Marcus Canty

Notable recordings from the world of pop music.

Shooter Jennings

A Shooter Jennings album is usually a wild, brave, zigzag of a thing. The 33-year-old country prince has never been afraid to swing hard, and sometimes, he misses. But when he hits, you might lose a few teeth.

That’s kind of what Jennings is singing about on “The Low Road,” a highlight from “The Other Life,” his sixth and strongest studio album. (Other highlights: proggy keyboard solos, ominous UFO metaphors, a lovely duet with Patty Griffin.)

With “The Low Road,” he outlines a life of desperate measures. The first verse is about sending a schoolyard bully to the dentist with the swing of his “Skeletor lunch box.” The final chorus paraphrases the career advice of his late father, outlaw country legend Waylon Jennings: “My daddy always said, ‘Son, don’t ever try to be just like another one of them boys, ’cause you ain’t never gonna be.’ ”

Here’s another album that proves it.

Marcus Canty

After more than a decade of Justin Guarinis and Sanjaya Malakars, we all know how this works. A stint on a singing game show can momentarily transform an unknown into a celebrity. But it won’t magically transform a singer into an artist.

Washington-born singer and former “X Factor USA” contestant Marcus Canty is valiantly trying to lunge across that chasm on his debut “This . . . Is Marcus Canty,” a collection of seven throat-flexing songs in the mode of Usher, Ne-Yo and Mario.

It’s not the most adventurous R&B out there, but the proceedings take a deliciously wicked turn with “Used by You,” a throbbing, mid-tempo invitation to a woman who might consider exacting her revenge on an unfaithful lover with a visit to Canty’s bedroom. His voice somewhere between pleading and calculating, Canty delivers the most sinister of pickup lines: “Girl, don’t get mad, get even.”

Chris Richards has been the Post's pop music critic since 2009. He's recently written about the joys of heavy metal drumming, the perils of "poptimism" and six months in the life of D.C. rapper Shy Glizzy.
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