Astounding returns from celebrated artists Bonnie Raitt and Rick Springfield, as well as a new album from Bill Carter warrant repeated listens. Also available is an essential disc filled with previously-unreleased acoustic recordings from the late Jeff Buckley.
Artist: Bonnie Raitt
Title: Dig In Deep (Redwing Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Bonnie Raitt, Tracy Chapman
Tell me more: Bonnie Raitt's uncanny gift at bringing an otherworldly and emotive touch to songs has captivated audiences since the release of her self-titled 1971 debut. On Raitt's new album Dig In Deep, the 10-time Grammy winner wields her artistic gifts on both self-penned confessions and outstanding reworkings of other songwriters' works in a worthy follow-up to 2012's superb Slipstream. Raitt fully reworks the INXS 1987 hit "Need You Tonight" into a ethereal funky blues romp, and takes a similar upbeat path on her original "What You're Doing to Me." Few singers can sing with a mix of power, beauty and authenticity like Raitt, as evidenced by a probing "I Knew" (which also features nuanced slide guitar work from the artist) and the soulful ballad "Undone." Information: bonnieraitt.com.
Artist: Rick Springfield
Title: Rocket Science (Gomer Music/Frontiers Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Rick Springfield, John & Jacob, Cheap Trick
Tell me more: Fans of power-pop and melodic modern-day country will all find plenty to love about Rick Springfield's latest album Rocket Science. While the sound of fiddles, banjos, mandolins and other Nashville-styled textures might not seem a good fit with the Aussie native's well-known melodic rock approach, the results here are a bona fide success and display an artist willing to explore new areas with a tangible and exhilarating spirit. "We Connect" is a thrilling straight-ahead rocker, but elsewhere Springfield has infused his song craft with country overtones (the fist-pumping "Light This Party Up," the shimmering "Down," country blues-soaked "Miss Mayhem" and uplifting "Pay It Forward"). Yet another welcome detour here is the Celtic-styled rocker "All Hands On Deck," a patriotic anthem that is as stirring as anything in Springfield's expansive discography. Information: frontiers.it and rickspringfield.com.
Artist: Jeff Buckley
Title: You and I (Columbia/Legacy Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Jeff Buckley, Thom Yorke, Gregory Markel
Tell me more: Whether singing original songs or fully reinterpreting material by other artists, it is difficult to categorize Jeff Buckley's style. The artist, who died in 1997 at the age of 30 after completing only one full-length studio album (1994's Grace) has nevertheless achieved a lofty standing among discerning listeners who recognize his incredible voice and artistry were rare. There has been palpable excitement over the release of You and I, a newly-issued 10-track album featuring sparse studio recordings that the Anaheim, California native made that were recently discovered during research leading up to the 20th anniversary of a deluxe reissue of "Grace." Among the songs Buckley makes his own is a freewheeling rendering of Bob Dylan's "Just Like a Woman," a loose folk-meets-blues take of "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'," and a graceful guitar-anchored version of the Smiths' "The Boy With a Thorn in His Side," while the album also features a driving exploration of his own "Grace" and musical and spoken word take on the self-penned title track. Information: JeffBuckley.com.
Artist: Bill Carter
Title: Innocent Victims & Evil Companions (Forty Below Records)
You might like if you enjoy: John Hiatt, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen
Tell me more: Austin-based master singer-songwriter Bill Carter might be best known for helping pen Stevie Ray Vaughan's biggest hit ("Crossfire"), but proves on his new album Innocent Victims & Evil Companions that his is a talent that is as large as the sonic expanse where his work roams. Carter's work spans from the Springsteen-worthy "Recipe for Disaster" and an affecting remembrance of lost love captured via the beautiful "Last Tear (Delaney's Song)" to the infectious Americana rocker "Sooner or Late" and the '70s-styled "Bughouse in Pasadena" with the singer chronicling a colorful tale of residing in the worst of places. Everywhere Carter's perceptive lyrics are offered amidst an artistic blend of folk, rock, blues and Americana. Among the key guests on the 14-track album are long-time Bob Dylan band members (guitarist Charlie Sexton and drummer Denny Freeman), David Holt (Joe Ely, the Mavericks) and fiddler Richard Bowden (Maines Brothers, Austin Lounge Lizards). Information: billcarterandtheblame.com.