(Concord Jazz): 4 stars

The first proper album from the lauded British saxophonist taps into hip-hop, reggae and soul to contour messages of self-awareness and community. Harmonies weave through several tunes, including “Stand With Each Other” and the percussive “La cumbia me está llamando,” but these are dynamic instrumentals. (The exception: “Boundless Beings,” with cosmic lyrics written and sung by Akenya Seymour.) Highlights include the contemplative “Together Is a Beautiful Place to Be” (showcasing elegant pianist Joe Armon-Jones) and the dub-inflected, 12-minute title track.

WAYLON PAYNE, Blue Eyes, the Harlot, the Queer, the Pusher & Me

(Carnival/Empire): 4 stars

Payne is a man with stories to tell. The son of Grammy-winning outlaw country singer Sammi Smith and longtime Willie Nelson guitarist Jody Payne, the former Angeleno and sometime actor (Jerry Lee Lewis in “Walk the Line”) commands an emotionally resonant baritone that can suggest a grittier Keith Whitley. His songs gripping, melodically inviting songs are bruised by addiction and loss, and buoyed by a resilient survivor’s gratitude. Highlights: stormy country-rocker “Sins of the Father” (blued by Mickey Raphael’s harmonica), the guitar-roiled “All the Trouble” (co-written with Lee Ann Womack and Adam Wright), “After the Storm,” “High Horse” (“What a high horse the dead man’s on/ Talk about needing a miracle/ Talk about needing a saving grace”).

ANGEL OLSEN, Whole New Mess (Jagjaguwar): 4 stars

Recorded in an isolated church in late 2018, nine of these 11 songs were transformed by orchestral arrangements for the stylistic chameleon’s 2019 album “All Mirrors.” They’re just as dramatic and more revealing here, with bare, heavily reverbed instrumentation and Olsen’s formidably expressive voice, as she strives to extract meaning from emotional wreckage. The title track and “Waving, Smiling” (“I’ve made my bed … of all my fears”) are new and hypnotically dark. But it’s Olsen’s purposeful excavation of the past that matches 2020’s troubled, questioning mood.


(JukeBoxx/Zojak): 3 stars

An uplifting response to the coronavirus pandemic, the latest offering from the Jamaican roots-reggae veteran is an ear-friendly mix of reggae, dancehall and pop brightened by collaborations with saxophonist/bandleader Dean Fraser, Dexta Daps (the fortifying “My Fire”), and dancehall vocalists Konshens and Shenseea. “T.I.M.E. (Together in Moments Everlasting)” veers into treacle, but a hopeful cover of father Jimmy Riley’s 1982 song “Poor Immigrants” nods to global concerns while Riley’s sweetly expressive tenor and a hooky chorus drive home the title track’s (and album’s) heartfelt message: “We need a healing/ ’Cause the world is bruised and bleeding.”