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New or recent albums

New or recent albums

Land of Doubt

Sam Baker

Syncretic, sentimental mystics don’t usually number Scripture among their points of reference, but in mining 1 Corinthians 13 for “Love Is Patient,” Baker proves himself an exception. And by placing it between the love song “Margaret” and the hate song “Leave,” he gives its pared-down pleadings extra resonance. The sawdust rasp of his 60-something voice, meanwhile, sees to the verisimilitude. In “Say the Right Words,” not even regular Bible reading can prepare two parents for how old their disapproval of their daughter’s wedding makes them feel.

Signs

Jonny Lang

From their loping funk to their encouraging words, “Stronger Together” and “What You’re Made Of” could be two versions of the same (good) song. The others tap, usually indirectly, into Lang’s main inspiration sources: the blues and the gospel. Over half showcase his feral vocals and equally feral guitar. “Bitter End” and “Wisdom” refer to the washing of blood from one’s hands (suggesting that Pilate and Lady Macbeth we will always have with us). Three showcase his slower mode. They do not grind the album to a halt.

Real Life

Aaron Sprinkle

In keeping with the cover art, a reproduction of his 1989 yearbook photo, Aaron Sprinkle sounds considerably younger than his 43 years. His voice, his immersion in polished, layered electronics (including Auto-Tune), his sharing of the spotlight with featured guests (including Say Anything’s Max Bemis)—everything except the measured melancholy of the melodies and the lyrics whispers “youth.” Come to think of it, the measured optimism of lyrics such as “If the hope is lost and hate begins to win, I’m not listenin’” isn’t exactly callow either.

Winwood: Greatest Hits Live

Steve Winwood

These 23 career-spanning performances taken from Winwood’s exhaustive supply of live recordings flow so smoothly that for the first few plays, maybe even the second few, the flow is all that you’ll notice. Then details surface: a hook, a particularly well-sung line, a pleasant stretch of Santana-lite jamming. Eventually, though, the flow reasserts itself. “I hope,” Winwood has said, “[that] the record … brings to mind happy memories of a good time experienced at one of my shows.” In other words, you had to be there.

(Showtime)

ENCORE

David Lynch’s recent Showtime series Twin Peaks: The Return was a surrealistic mishmash of intelligence-insulting non sequiturs and bad taste. The only redeeming quality was the music. Like that of the original Twin Peaks series, it imbued soap-opera melodies with Twilight Zone mystique, creating emotionally seductive illusions of coherence.

Two new soundtracks allow those illusions to glimmer on their own: Twin Peaks: Limited Event Series Soundtrack and Twin Peaks: Music from the Limited Event Series Soundtrack (Rhino). The former gathers commentative music both old (Angelo Badalamenti’s “Twin Peaks Theme,” “Laura Palmer’s Theme,” “Audrey’s Dance”) and new (the Warsaw National Philharmonic’s “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima,” Johnny Jewel’s “Windswept [Reprise]”). The latter gathers the songs that were lip-synced by contemporary acts at the episodes’ conclusions and oldies that emerged from characters’ radios, stereos, or jukeboxes. If either soundtrack is all that anyone remembers of The Return years hence, Lynch’s vanity project won’t have been (entirely) in vain. —A.O.