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11 New Albums for Fall Listening

From Wilco to Willie to Weir, these CDs prove that all our rowdy friends are nowhere near settling down

  • Wilco, Schmilco
    Zoran Orlic/Courtesy of Anti Records


    Schmilco (dBpm/Anti Records)
    The Chicago-based indie rock band threw pop confetti on its fans with last year’s Star Wars, so what a relief it is to hear Wilco smooth out that sonic shag in favor of the (mostly) acoustic tunes on this year’s oddly titled outing. Tracks such as “If I Ever Was a Child” and “Happiness” go down like soothing sips of ice-cold lemonade. (Sept. 9)

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  • Macy Gray, Stripped
    Courtesy of Chesky

    Macy Gray

    Stripped (Chesky) We love the quirks and emotional gravity that animate Macy Gray’s jazz singing. Here, fronting an all-star ensemble that includes guitarist Russell Malone and trumpeter Wallace Roney, she delivers some enthralling makeovers of her some of her previous torch-song hits (“I Try,” “Sweet Baby”). For a true taste of Gray’s versatility, start with her surprisingly delicate makeover of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.” (Sept. 9)

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  • Willie Nelson, For the Good Times
    Courtesy of Sony/Legacy

    Willie Nelson

    For the Good Times (Sony/Legacy) Nelson pays tribute to mentor Ray Price, a pioneer of the “countrypolitan” sound of the 1950s. As conducted by Bergen White, the Nashville String Machine turns Willie’s voice from leathery to heavenly as he croons 12 Price gems, including “Make the World Go Away,” “Faded Love” and “Invitation to the Blues.” And at 83, could a guy have a better-named backing band than the Time Jumpers? (Sept. 16)

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  • Bobby Rush, Porcupine Meat
    Rick Olivier/Courtesy of Rounder

    Bobby Rush

     Porcupine Meat (Rounder) Age ain’t nothing but a number for this indefatigable blues singer, songwriter and guitarist. The 82-year-old Rush has returned to his old stomping grounds (New Orleans) to churn out yet another album that grips your hips and tickles your funny bone. Several tracks here — the rambunctious “Dress Too Short” and the socially conscious “Got Me Accused” — seem slated to become classics in his impressive songbook. (Sept. 16)

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  • Bruce Springsteen, Chapter and Verse
    Courtesy of Columbia Legacy

    Bruce Springsteen

    Chapter and Verse (Columbia/Legacy) “I come from a boardwalk town where almost everything is tinged with a bit of fraud. So am I,” confesses the Boss in his new autobiography, Born to Run. Revelatory in its own right is Springsteen’s new album, Chapter and Verse, with five of its 18 songs being released for the first time. For fans of Jersey roots, “Baby I” dates back to 1966, when Bruce had barely learned to drive. Other debut tunes (“Ballad of Jesse James,” “Growin’ Up”) are from the early 1970s. (Sept. 23)

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  • Bob Weir, Blue Mountain
    Courtesy of Columbia Legacy

    Bob Weir

    Blue Mountain (Columbia/Legacy) The rhythm guitarist — and oh yeah, founding member of the Grateful Dead — returns with his first solo disc in 10 years. (It’s also Weir’s first album of all-original material in three decades.) It’s fun to follow Weir’s teen years in Wyoming through such unabashed cowboy ballads as “Storm Country” and “What the Ghost Towns Know.” (Sept. 30)

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  • Eric Clapton, Live in San Diego
    Courtesy of Reprise/Bushbranch

    Eric Clapton

    Live in San Diego (Reprise/Bushbranch) Clapton had long admired the music of J.J. Cale, but the two guitarists did not collaborate until Road to Escondido, their joint album in 2006. This concert a year later was a victory lap of sorts, with Cale sitting in on five numbers, including “Cocaine” and “After Midnight.” Don’t miss the guest solo by Georgia bluesman Robert Cray on “Crossroads.” (Sept. 30)

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  • Melissa Etheridge, Memphis Rock and Soul
    Courtesy of Stax

    Melissa Etheridge

    MEmphis Rock and Soul (Stax) Memphis is a music mecca, obliging every singer who ever strummed a guitar to come pay it homage in person. This blues-laden travelogue documents Etheridge’s own recent pilgrimage to the place, where she churned out reverent covers of Stax Records hits such as “Any Other Way” (William Bell), “Respect Yourself” (the Staple Singers) and “Who’s Making Love” (Johnnie Taylor). (Oct. 7)

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  • Norah Jones, Day Breaks
    Courtesy of Blue Note

    Norah Jones

    Day Breaks (Blue Note) With eight Grammy notches in her belt, the singer and pianist returns to her jazz roots with this stunning new disc. It boasts not only stellar special guests but also some compelling serenades. When Jones isn’t caressing originals such as the brooding “Tragedy” or the sexy “Don’t Be Denied,” she turns in a sparkling reading of Horace Silver’s “Peace” and a pensive rendition of Duke Ellington’s “Fleurette Africaine (African Flower).” (Oct. 7)  

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  • David Crosby, Lighthouse
    Courtesy of On Ground Up

    David Crosby

    Lighthouse (GroundUp/Verve) The folk-rock veteran joins forces with his large ensemble, Snarky Puppy, on nine enticing tracks that optimize Crosby’s flickering vocals. The compositions range from the blissfully personal (“Things We Do for Love” pays tribute to his wife of 29 years, Jan) to the bitingly political (“Somebody Other Than You”). (Oct. 21)

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  • Sting, 57th and 9th
    Courtesy of A&M/Interscope


    57th & 9th (A&M/Interscope) Sting’s first rock album in 13 years teems with a newfound ferocity. Enlisting the help of several musicians who have cycled through Nine Inch Nails or the Last Bandoleros, the album also explores themes of travel and motion. (Nov. 11)

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