(* * * out of four stars)
You can have great bone structure and still be well-served by a canny makeup artist, especially when you're looking less than your best. That would seem to be the lesson of Xscape, the posthumous collection of songs culled from the late Michael Jackson's personal vault and "contemporized" by L.A. Reid, Timbaland and other hitmakers.
The tracks, also featured in their original form on a deluxe edition, both incorporate modern technology but nod unabashedly to the past. Love Never Felt So Good acquires luscious, giddy strings evocative of Jackson's early solo work with Quincy Jones, and Stargate gives A Place With No Name an intro that recalls The Way You Make Me Feel and a more stark, muscular vibe.
PLAYLIST: 10 intriguing tracks for consideration
SONG OF THE WEEK: 'Bartender,' Lady Antebellum
LISTEN UP: Chromeo, Joseph Arthur, Rascal Flatts
Timbaland's Loving You and Slave to the Rhythm, a Reid/Babyface winner he revisits with J-Roc Harmon, are high points, providing flashes of the sublime sweetness and eerie ferocity Jackson was capable of — and could inspire in his collaborators.- Elysa Gardner
Download: Loving You, Slave to the Rhythm, Do You Know Where Your Children Are