LUCINDA WILLIAMS, Good Souls Better Angels (Highway 20): ★★★1/2
Blues structure and biblical characters backbone the venerated songwriter’s angriest album. “Big Rotator” writhes to a tough, righteous groove, and “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” seems destined to be a jamming setpiece onstage. Williams’ weathered Southern drawl repeats key lines whose rage is magnified by Buick 6 guitarist Stuart Mathis’ snarling riffs and solos; “Wakin’ Up” sounds like long-bottled resentment exploding, while the familiar metaphors of “Big Black Train” are animated by Williams’ raw ache and the band’s sensitivity. Benediction’s delivered by dreamy closer “Good Souls” and the “Sweet Old World”-reminiscent “When the Way Gets Dark” (“Hang on tight, don’t be afraid/ Don’t give up/ It’s gonna be alright, you’re gonna be OK”). Unusually for Williams, those performances strike deepest, but she remains dependably honest while electrified by the political zeitgeist. lucindawilliams.com

 

LIDO PIMIENTA, Miss Colombia (Anti-): ★★★★
The Colombian-Canadian artist follows 2017’s Polaris-winning surprise “La Papessa” with this ear-pleasing manifesto of independence and identity. Pimienta navigates cultures with her synth-enhanced cumbia, while lyrically addressing racism, indigenous inequality, romantic disappointment and resilience. Some of the most stirring tracks are built around percussive call-and-response exchanges, such as “Quiero Que Me Salves” (with Sexteto Tabala) and the hypnotic “Pelo Cucu.” Elsewhere, notably “Nada” and bookending tracks “Para Transcribir SOL” (“I had to feel eyes in your bullets”) and “Para Transcribir LUNA,” Pimienta’s silky melodies and layered vocals soothe. lidopimienta.com

 

 

VARIOUS ARTISTS, Ella 100: Live at the Apollo! (Concord): ★★★1/2

A pristinely recorded concert celebrating late First Lady of Jazz Ella Fitzgerald, with sparkling performances by co-hosts Patti Austin and David Alan Grier, the Count Basie Orchestra, Andra Day, Ledisi, Cassandra Wilson, Lizz Wright, and splendid Howard University vocal group Afro Blue. A rare track of Fitzgerald singing “People” like a heart-to-heart declaration raises the question, Why listen to copies when the original’s recordings are available? This impeccably tasteful tribute answers with evidence that Fitzgerald’s legacy’s very much alive. concordjazz.com


CHATHAM COUNTY LINE, Strange Fascination (Yep Roc): ★★★
Exit banjo, enter drums. The resilient North Carolina string band retain their bedrock connection to American roots music while stepping further away from bluegrassy arrangements of earlier recordings. Frontman Dave Wilson’s solidly crafted songs don’t reinvent the wheel but offer satisfying rewards over repeated spins. Highlights: the title track, with Sharon Van Etten’s wistful harmony; euthanasia-themed “Leave This World”; the ingratiating, hammock-like sway of “Nothing”: “The day may come we’ll get back to hustling/ But till that day let’s make our hay making bets on nothing.” Chathamcountyline.com