Fall Arts: Sing or swim - Page 2

C'mon in, the water's fine in the wet, wild world of new music releases

SEPT. 18

Babyface, Playlist (Mercury) The onetime close, personal friend of Bill just wants do covers, like "Fire and Rain," "Time in a Bottle," and — hoo boy — "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."

James Blunt, All the Lost Souls (Custard/Atlantic) U-g-l-y, this ain't got no alibi.

Chamillionaire, Ultimate Victory (Chamillitary/Universal Motown) The H-town star's long-delayed sophomore effort has a mammoth supporting cast even by commercial-rap standards; it kicks off with a single featuring Slick Rick.

The Donnas, Bitchin' (Purple Feather/Redeye) Named after the fluffy puppies overrunning their studio?

Eve, Here I Am (Aftermath/Interscope) Had anyone been looking? Listening in are producers Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, and Pharrell Williams.

Rogue Wave, Asleep at Heaven's Gate (Brushfire/Universal) Just don't drift off around Marshall Applewhite while wearing black-and-white Nikes. A new bass player — Patrick Abernathy — and a new label for the locals.

Angie Stone, The Art of Love and War (Stax/Concord) The road back from VH1's Celebrity Fit Club may yet be one to salvation, since it's passing through the holy land of Stax.


SEPT. 25

Devendra Banhart, Smokey Rolls down Thunder Canyon (XL) Gael García Bernal sings on one track, and Vashti Bunyan sings on two; Noah Georgeson produces a collection that is supposed to flit from Gilberto Gil breezes to Jackson 5–style pop.

The Cave Singers, Invitation Songs (Matador) Pretty Girls Make Graves–Murder City Devils, Hint Hint, and Cobra High grads calcify in intriguing country-folk shapes.

Keyshia Cole, Just like You (A&M/Interscope) Two years on, it's clear that Oakland girl Cole's The Way It Is was the best R&B debut since What's the 411? Through the sheer intense focus of her singing, she rescues overexposed Missy and Lil' Kim on the first single here.

José González, In Our Nature (Mute) Yes way, José. The long wait for the follow-up to Veneer is over. González recorded this in his hometown over a three-week period after obsessing about today's religion and (lack of) ethics.

PJ Harvey, White Chalk (Island) Peej draws in longtime collaborator Eric Drew Feldman and Jim White of the Dirty Three.

Iron and Wine, The Shepherd's Dog (Sub Pop) Here's hoping three's the charm for Sam Beam.

Jagged Edge, Baby Makin' Project (So So Def/Island) Yet another case for population control.

Mick Jagger, The Very Best of Mick Jagger (Rhino UK) It's semiofficial: the best of Mick Jagger is worse than the worst of the Rolling Stones.

Bettye LaVette, The Scene of the Crime (Anti-) A singer who can bring out the black-and-blue tone of that title, especially because the scene of the crime is Muscle Shoals, Ala., where she returned to record this album. She's backed by Drive-by Truckers.

Matt Pond PA, Last Light (Altitude) Neko Case and Kelly Hogan hold a candle.

Múm, Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy, Let Your Crooked Hands Be Holy (Fat Cat) Mum's the word?

Meshell Ndegeocello, The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams (Decca) Connecting her MySpace page to the gender-bending edges of her cover of Bill Withers's "Who Is He (and What Is He to You?)," you might say the man of her dreams is Miles Davis.

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