Dylan transforms everything on Shadows in the Night — 10 slow-dance covers, mostly romantic standards from the pre-rock era of American popular songwriting — into a barely-there noir of bowed bass and throaty shivers of electric guitar.
Almost every track is like a bouncy castle: fun, certainly, but not made for long-term stays.
Giddens is having a solo coming-out party, displaying her classical vocal training and ability to reanimate traditional music in her own nuanced image.
Rebel Heart is a long, passionate, self-referential meditation on losing love and finding purpose in chilling times.
Arranged for voice with orchestral strings and electronic beats, Vulnicura is a unified set of nine dark, swarming, melodically distended songs.
Drones is a truly guilty pleasure, like watching The Daily Show and knowing Jon Stewart's best jokes start with someone else's colossal error or hurt.
Her third LP imagines a 2015 mainstream by reflecting what it once was — Loretta and Dolly in the Sixties, sure, but also Emmylou in the Eighties and Reba in the Nineties.
The Baltimore duo's fifth album sticks to that signature sound, and go figure: A formula that might seem limiting feels instead like it can contain entire worlds.
This retro-soul man doesn't have to work so hard to win you over on his debut LP: His smooth, Sam Cooke-esque croon makes Coming Home the best kind of nostalgia trip.
A concept album about history, memory, movement, loss and love, the emotional tone here — a wry, wistful melancholy — is pretty straightforward, a function of Newsom's tightened focus.
It's no big shock to hear him big-upping Wilco's Jeff Tweedy (and even nicking one of his tunes) on this album, where he cleverly juggles genres and often leans on his somber singer-songwriter side.
It has little of the far-reaching ambition of Honest, but what it lacks in bold strokes, it more than makes up for in consistency.
Chance the Rapper's 2013 mixtape Acid Rap marked him as one of the brightest new voices in hip-hop. For his next move, he's swerved left, collaborating with a crew of Chicago pals led by Nico Segal (a.k.a. Donnie Trumpet) on a warm, evocative pop-soul-jazz album that comes straight from the heart.
His most eccentric and best-ever solo set. Crosseyed Heart is the sound of Richards following his pleasure wherever it leads.
Upping the spectacle from Fear Fun, his 2012 debut, I Love You, Honeybear is an autobiographical set about love, marriage and derangement that's both ironic and empathic.
The guitar rides in the back, the keyboards up front. The beats have a synthesized snap even when they're live drums, and even the dreamiest tracks pack a pop bounce.
Whatever her intentions, they've led to her most genuinely thrilling music ever.
Blur have returned with inspiration to spare.
Yours, Dreamily, takes what Auerbach does at his best, in and out of the Keys — confessional, texturally enriched blues propelled with garage-rock force — and adds a riveting jump in eccentricity.
If the sound has widened and even brightened in spots, the Weeknd still rocks a serious Eeyore vibe for much of Beauty Behind the Madness.
Black Messiah shows how deep easy can go. D'Angelo and his band have built an avant-soul dream palace to get lost in, for 56 minutes of heaven.
Whether she's holding notes with the strength of a suspension bridge or enjoying a rare lighthearted "whoo-hoo!" on "Sweetest Devotion," her incredible phrasing – the way she can infuse any line with nuance and power – is more proof that she's among the greatest interpreters of romantic lyrics.
If we're talking insurgent content and currency, Lamar straight up owns rap relevancy on Butterfly, whatever challengers to the throne barely visible in his dusty rear-view.