KT Tunstall – KIN (Caroline Records) – acoustic-guitar-driven power-pop. A little folky, very laid back.
Bobby Rush – Porcupine Meat (Rounder) – blues, funk, and a heavy horn section act as your guides through what sounds like one heck of a breakup.
Charlie Hunter – Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth (Ground Up) – irresistible instrumental blues with NOLA-style jazz brass accompaniment.
Skye & Ross – Skye & Ross (Fly Agaric Records; Cooking Vinyl Limited) – Skye & Ross is a side project of British trip-hop legends, Morecheeba. It should be no surprise then that this album is packed with ethereal, sensual, downtempo. jazz, rock, soul, and trip-hop goodness. This seems to be classified as an electronic release everywhere, probably because of the band’s lineage but to me it listens more like a very low-key indie rock album.
Madeleine Peyroux – Secular Hymns (Impulse!) – beautiful vocal jazz with blues, folk, and swing undertones.
Amanda Shires – My Piece of Land (BMG Rights Management) – soft, gentle country music with a touch of folk.
Gallant – Ology (Mind of a Genius Records; Warner Bros. Records) – smooth and loungy RnB that makes you want to get up and dance.
Jamie Lidell – Building a Beginning (Jajulin) – Lidell departs from his electronic music roots to produce a smooth and soulful RnB record. Listeners can catch a strong Stevie Wonder influence in his sound, but it doesn’t go as far as parroting.
Pretenders – Alone (BMG Rights Management) – at times sultry, at others, gritty. This driving 10th release from frontwoman Crissie Hynde is apologetically irreverent and brutally honest.
Saint Motel – saintmotelevision (Elektra Records) – eclectic alternative rock. A strong gospel influence and an upbeat horn section give this release a lot of energy and depth.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones – Sea of Noise (Records) – a solid neo-soul album with lots of groove. Thought-provoking lyrics explore the issues of racial violence, political turmoil, and the everyday struggles of faith and love.
Older Titles, Newly Added
Hardcore Traxx: Dance Mania Records 1986-1997 (Strut Records) – Anyone interested in the history of house music needs to give this collection a listen. It’s like a musical time machine to Chicago in the 1980s.
Only 4U: The Sound of Cajmere & Cajual Records 1992-2012 (Strut Records) – Get in that musical time machine to Chicago and fast forward 10 years. This collection picks up on the Chicago sound from where the Hardcore Traxx collection leaves off.