This week is a mix of old and new, from the return of a Motown-era soul group to the first EP from a classically trained viola player who is set to conquer indie rock. The great thing about music is you never have to make a choice between one or the other. In fact, it’s even better to mix things up and keep your audio interesting.
Labelle — Back to Now (Verve)
They’re back! Patti Labelle has rejoined her soul sisters, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash, to make the group’s first new album in 33 years. With Lenny Kravitz helping them take their classic R&B sound and give it a modern makeover, the results could go either way: beautiful or boring.
Mary Mary — The Sound (Columbia Records)
A gospel duo that has been able to cross over into mainstream pop and R&B with songs like “Shackles (Praise You),” Mary Mary will most likely only cater to existing fans with their new CD. The Sound sounds like more of the same — which isn’t bad if you like what you’ve been hearing from them.
Pit er Pat — High Time (Thrilljockey Records)
Indie jazz-rock trio Pit er Pat create some bizarre yet interesting sounds, which are only made better by vocalist/keyboardist Fay Davis-Jeffers. If you like electronic-music-meets-avant-garde-guitar, you’ll find High Time amusing.
Lee Ann Womack — Call Me Crazy (MCA Nashville)
On what seems to be the most serious album in her career thus far, country singer/songwriter Lee Ann Womack tackles some classic country themes: heavy drinking and heartbreak. She attempts to bring a female perspective to both, and duets with George Strait and Keith Urban show she is able to do so while straddling the lines of the old and new sounds of the genre.
Anni Rossi — Afton (4AD)
Songbird Anni Rossi is classically trained in several instruments but has perfected the viola, which suits her tender voice and lighthearted songs on life and love. On her debut EP, she gives a taste of what she’s capable of, but it’s somewhat of a tease — her full-length (produced by Steve Albini) is scheduled to release in 2009.