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Noteworthy: Reviews of new music

Jazz

Diana Krall – From This Moment (Verve): Bouncing back to familiar ground after a one-album turn as a songwriter, pop/jazz superstar Diana Krall once again puts her distinctive stamp on the American Songbook with this sweet set of tunes. Eight tracks backed by the swingin' Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra have one imagining her following Ol' Blue Eyes himself on stage at the Sands in Las Vegas. The title tune, "From This Moment On," bursts with joyful, urgent enthusiasm. Three tracks with her jazz quartet show the singer-pianist as thoughtful chanteuse, led by the soulful "Little Girl Blue." This is Krall at her best, if not her most adventurous. No timid nods to great songs here, just beautifully crafted expressions of them. Grade: A–
– Gregory M. Lamb

Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian (Aware/Columbia Records): Here is a jazz guitar trio whose members embody over a century of performing experience, yet they become progressively more daring as years advance. Frisell continues his mining of American roots music by evoking haunting tone colors from his inventive electric guitar. His meshing with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Paul Motian is telepathic. The covers of the traditional ballad "Pretty Polly" and the country classic "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" are radically transfigured harmonically, yet remain reverently austere. "On the Street Where You Live" reflects the trio's equal adeptness with gleeful Broadway lyricism. Grade: A
– Norman Weinstein

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Pop-rock

Shawn Colvin – These Four Walls (Nonesuch): Five years since her last release, the underrated "Whole New You," Shawn Colvin is still hanging out on the same intersection between country, rock, and folk. Too bad it's not a crossroads of sorts. At this point in Colvin's career it's unlikely that she will tamper with an acoustic-based sound so cozily familiar that it's become predictable. One yearns for an element of musical surprise, but Colvin compensates with winsome tunes ("Tuff Kid" and "Cinnamon Road" are standouts) and her literate lyrics. Grade: B+
–Stephen Humphries

Country

Alan Jackson – Like Red on a Rose (Arista Nashville): Alan Jackson's 16th album is slow, smooth, and most definitely sweet. Produced by country songstress Alison Krauss, Jackson's simple vocals are backed with wonderfully crafted melodies on a variety of instruments. Jackson's simple messages of love resonate. You believe it when he vows to love someone like "little children love pennies," or when he slowly croons "I don't love you like I used to/ this old man loves you more." But in a way, it's the gaps between the vocals that captivate. Beautiful phrases echo from slide guitars, harmonica, and Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer keyboards. Add in a dose of backing vocals from Krauss, Dan Tyminski, and Lee Ann Womack, and you get a record sure to add to Jackson's list of 31 No. 1 singles. Grade: A
– Vic Roberts


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