Personnel: Alex Arias (programming).
Audio Mixer: Chris Lord-Alge.
Recording information: Emblem Studios, Calabasas, California.
Photographers: Jeri Heiden; Cole Walliser; Ryan Corey; Albert Mendonca.
Teaming up once again with producer Matt Serletic, the Matchbox 20 and Collective Soul producer who helmed the 2010 album Hard Knocks, Joe Cocker winds up branching out in slightly different directions on 2012's Fire It Up. Where Hard Knocks wound up as a clean, polished, blue-eyed soul album, Fire It Up sounds closer to Serletic's work with Matchbox 20 -- an adult pop album where the R&B is buried beneath gleaming, pulsating rock. Cocker has often mined this crossover vein and he's done so with engaging results going as far back as 1989's "When the Night Comes," and he sounds appealing enough here, particularly on the sprightlier numbers. When things start to slow down, Cocker sounds a little more vulnerable, a little older, and while there's charm to that raggedness, Serletic's production is too precise to be a good match. Nevertheless, this is an assured, professionally crafted piece of contemporary adult pop. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine