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Music

New CDs This Week: Richard Thompson, Joe Henry, Terence Blanchard...

Sarah Zupko

Richard Thompson - Walking on a Wire: Richard Thompson (1968-2009)

The best box set of the past few months has nothing to do with Woodstock. Walking on a Wire covers the length of Thompson's rich and varied career, beginning with his days in the influential folk-rock group Fairport Convention and continuing through his work with his wife Linda and into the solo career that continues unabated to this day. Equally revered as a songwriter and guitarist, Thompson is one of the true legends of the 1960s.

Joe Henry - Blood from Stars

Eclectic singer-songwriter Joe Henry offers up a compelling blend of decidedly adult music on his 11th solo release. As always, his music won't be confined by genre definitions, but suffice it to say, his work has a blues hue and a jazz sensibility. The album also marks the debut of Henry's son Levon on saxophone. Levon has snagged two soloist awards already from the Monterey Jazz Festival's honors given to young musicians.

Brendan Benson - My Old Familiar Friend

Benson has long been a favorite in power pop circles, though he is mainly known to the masses as Jack White's bandmate in the Raconteurs. My Old Familiar Friend is the pop ace's fourth solo album and features the sort of catchy pop that once headlined on AM radio everywhere.

Terence Blanchard - Choices

Jazz trumpeter and composer Blanchard returned to his hometown of New Orleans to record his latest album at the Ogden Museum of Art. This is high-brow, cerebral jazz, featuring spoken word interludes by noted intellectual Cornel West. The music achieves urgency both through its inspired setting and the live nature of the sessions, as the whole album was recorded in four days.

Ledisi - Turn Me Loose

Neo-soul chanteuse Ledisi teams with an A-list of producers for his latest outing that continues her genre smashing ways, as the singer brings in elements of jazz, hip-hop and rock to classic R&B. Lesisi is by far one of the brightest lights in soul music today and Turn Me Loose brings the funk in a fashion that would make James Brown proud.

Other notable releases this week:

The Antlers - Hospice

As Tall As Lions - You Can't Take It with You

The Cave Singers - Welcome Joy

Division Day - Visitation

Hot Club of Cowtown - Wishful Thinking

Mark Mallman - Invincible Criminal

Delbert McClinton - Acquired Taste

Reba McEntire - Keep on Loving You

Mount Eerie - Wind's Poem

MUTEMATH - Armistice

Sean Paul - Imperial Blaze

Jack Peñate - Everything Is New

Pissed Jeans - King of Jeans

Jay Reatard - Watch Me Fall

Sister Hazel - Release

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The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

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