to the House: Women Sing Waits (Dualtone): ***½

Singers have long mined Tom Waits’ catalogue for meaty ballads, and this collection of 12 handsomely produced tracks attests to the lyrical substance and melodic beauty of his songwriting. Sibling trio Joseph open with the beguiling title track, followed by a parade of estimable women paying elegant tribute, including Phoebe Bridgers, Rosanne Cash, Iris DeMent, Aimee Mann, Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer, and Kat Edmonson (who most closely embodies Waits’ jazzy, theatrical eclecticism). Highlights: Corinne Bailey Rae’s winsome “Jersey Girl,” Courtney Marie Andrews’ faithful “Downtown Train,” and Patty Griffin’s cello-graced stunner “Ruby’s Arms.”


(Bible and Tire): ****

Maybe it’s because feel-good ’60s-style soul, done right, hits us right in the solar plexus. Maybe it’s because the times predispose us to respond like drowning castaways to a lifeboat when we hear music bursting with this much life and hope. Whatever the reason, this joyful gospel debut from Memphis-rooted brothers Chris and Courtney Barnes, who grew up harmonizing in a family band, refreshes as much as it uplifts. Standouts like “Why Am I Treated So Bad,” “I’m Trying to Go Home” and the righteous title track groove to swelling organ, horns, guitars, and call-and-response harmonies, their inspired messages equally at home in a nightclub or church.

KATE DAVIS, Trophy (Solitaire): ***

An acclaimed jazz prodigy whose bass- and violin-playing gifts earned her awards, plum gigs, and entre to the Grammy Jazz Ensemble and the Manhattan School of Music, a now grownup Davis (who also co-wrote Sharon Van Etten’s “Seventeen”) finally gets real with herself and listeners with this indie-rock debut of her own songs. It’s uneven, but standouts like “Daisy,” the bouncy “Cloud,” “Did You Love Somebody” and the metaphoric “Animals” persuasively capture the self-doubt, hormonal rush, and awakening insights of life in your teens and twenties.

SIMPLY RED, Blue Eyed Soul

(BMG): **½

Mick Hucknall’s eerily old-school soul vocals affixed the UK combo to the mid-’80s pop landscape with nascent classics like “Holding Back the Years” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” Decades later, a ’70s-style set like this was probably inevitable. Slick filler like “Complete Love” and the funky “BadBootz” lacks the nuanced elegance of the best of the original band’s “Picture Book,” but as a showcase for Hucknall’s huskily expressive tenor and the new lineup’s retro-grooving musicianship, it delivers the goods for nostalgic fans.