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Out now (and coming soon) in music

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Don’t let anyone try to convince you that good music is a thing of the past. Some of these new titles in soul, rock, blues and alt-country are destined to put a little spring in your step, out now and coming soon.

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The James Hunter Six“Nick of Time” (Daptone Records; out now)

This is the stuff. Vintage soul and R&B lovers must seek out this just-released LP from Colchester, England’s James Hunter Six that is among the best new records I’ve heard this year. Imagine if Ray Charles, Otis Redding and Jackie Wilson had secretly formed a supergroup in the mid-1960s, recorded some top-flight material and then placed it in a time capsule to be uncorked in 2020. I’m trying not to overstate the case for how great this is, but I can’t get enough of it.

Eric Johnson – “EJ Vol. II” (Vortexan Music; out now)

Guitar freaks have been onto Eric Johnson since his first Austin City Limits appearance in 1984. Deservedly recognized as one of the most gifted guitarists of his generation, Johnson is best known for the Grammy-winning instrumental “Cliffs of Dover,” and his thrilling live performances, with occasional forays into acoustic territory, such as 2016’s “EJ.” This successor showcases a new set of mostly original acoustic and electric performances with some interesting covers, including the Bert Jansch arrangement of “Black Waterside” borrowed by Jimmy Page for Led Zeppelin’s “Black Mountain Side.”

The MastersonsNo Time For Love Songs” (Red House; out now)

Part of Steve Earle’s band, this married couple’s fourth release is a winning alt-country pop affair that (mostly) ditches love songs for predominately mid-tempo ruminations on the state of the world that turn out to be brighter and more optimistic than most. Eleanor Whitmore’s remarkable voice makes you want to absorb each word as sweet melodies and country harmonies flow seamlessly through 10 new songs produced by Shooter Jennings.

Roomful of Blues – “In a Roomful of Blues” (Alligator; March 13)

Roomful of Blues have become an American musical institution over the course of their 50-plus year mission of bringing blues in all of its forms to the people. The band that launched the careers of guitarist Duke Robillard, pianist Al Copley, guitarist Ronnie Earl and singer Lou Ann Barton, still includes original sax-man Rich Lataille, with Chris Vachon on guitar and Phil Pemberton on lead vocals. The band’s 19th studio album (the first since 2011), out this Friday, proves that they are still one of the most versatile bands anywhere, with 13 tracks encompassing jump blues, Chicago blues, soul, swing, and even zydeco. This band has a back catalog busting with gems and “In a Roomful of Blues” is one of its finest additions.

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real“Naked Garden” (Fantasy; March 27)

A follow-up to last summer’s “Turn Off The News (Build a Garden),” this collection of 15 songs is a companion to that record, captured during the same productive sessions at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La Studio in Malibu. The two albums share 7 titles, but the versions on “Naked Garden” offer noticeably different performances and arrangements. Judging by the deceptively jaunty lead single, “Couldn’t Break Your Heart,” the band is currently in a very special creative place where its biggest problem seems to be an overabundance of good material. If you missed it, grab “Turn Off The News” and soak in one of the best albums from last year in preparation for this one.

Pearl Jam“Gigaton” (Republic Records; March 27)

The first new Pearl Jam studio album since “Lightning Bolt” in 2013, “Gigaton” was previewed to mostly rave reviews for stoked fans at a January event in Los Angeles. Lead singles “Dance of the Clairvoyants” and “Superblood Wolfman” are completely different animals; the former exudes a Talking Heads vibe while the latter is an all-out catchy rocker destined to be a live highlight. The band was planning to literally gig-a-ton this year, first in Canada and the U.S. starting next week, but the first leg of the tour has been postponed following the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. The band has a European trek scheduled for the summer and are rumored to be plotting a U.S. tour for the fall.

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 March 2020 09:11

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