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Bruce Springsteen’s Classic E Street Tune, and 11 More New Songs


Bruce Springsteen’s album scheduled for Oct. 23 was recorded live in the studio with the E Street Band, simulating a live concert of new material. “Letter to You” is a writerly song for a lover or a loyal fan base: “Tried to summon all that my heart finds true/And send it in my letter to you.” It rides the E Street Band’s long-honed arena-scale capabilities: explosive drums, pealing piano chords, a twangy lead-guitar melody for a solo, a switch to minor chords for the bridge and a false ending with the coda as a recap. It couldn’t be truer to form. JON PARELES

The verses are terse rapped lines — “Hands dirty, mind clean/A different vision with a new dream” — over a lean guitar lick, and Monáe delivers them with off-handed grit. But when the chorus insists “the tables got to turn,” lean turns to lush: The sound of a full, organ-driven soul band and a gospelly choir, with voices leaping out in euphoric righteousness. PARELES

A clever and catchy number that flips country music’s fatiguing obsession with whiskey singalongs into something a little lighter, “Rosé” is one of several strong songs on the debut EP from Mickey Guyton, who is a rarity in Nashville: a Black woman signed to a country music major label. Elsewhere — like on “Black Like Me” and “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” — she addresses her cruel conundrum with nerve and candor. But “Rosé” is something different, a frisky, anthemic, accessible and crisply sung should-be hit, witty but not winking: “Don’t need no bougie sommelier/There’s no point in asking ‘cause I’m gonna say/‘Rosé.’” JON CARAMANICA

“Confusion Wheel” was an unreleased song from Tom Petty’s sessions for his 1994 album “Wildflowers,” which is due for a much-expanded rerelease in October. It’s a folk-rock waltz, with a band backing a simply strummed acoustic guitar as Petty sings with craggy resignation about deep-seated alienation and against-the-odds optimism. The minor chords and descending melody pull against his promise of “a brand-new song”; he sounds more bereft than he’s willing to admit, even to himself. PARELES

The 20-year-old ukulele-strumming self-help adviser mxmtoon is joined by Carly Rae Jepsen (which makes sense) and gets production help from Merrill Garber of Tuneyards (huh?) for “OK on Your Own.” Its chords suggest Wham’s “Careless Whisper,” transformed into a kiss-off — “I can’t complete you, baby” — that shades into therapy: “I hate to leave you feeling all alone/But your story cannot start until you’ve grown.” PARELES

The Malian guitarist and singer Sidi Touré admonishes children to respect parents in “Wakey Kama,” and there’s musical tension along with generational ones. Two guitars tug hypnotically against each other — one lick moving up, the other moving down — while they share the same mode, like a close-knit but contentious family. PARELES

We are in a tiring period of new hip-hop and reggaeton songs essentially reworking old hits as a kind of cheat code for quick success. It’s possible to pull this off effectively (see J.I.’s “Need Me,” a sleek revision of Mya’s “Best of Me”) but more often, the connections between source material and reinterpreter feel rough and uncaring. The new Daddy Yankee bioengineered hit single “Don Don” invokes the ghost of Sisqo’s “Thong Song” — the borrowing is literal and cheap. (Likable, though, obviously.) How about a more considered approach? On “I Got You,” Trippie Redd effectively resuscitates the Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey hit “I Know What You Want,” but rather than run off with the melody without looking back, he brings Busta onto the song for a strutting new verse. Sharing is caring. CARAMANICA

It’s a non-apology apology. “I keep messin’ up my love life,” Usher sings. “I just can’t escape all of these bad habits.” As synthesizers and programmed drums circle around him, he sounds anguished but just a little proud that he’s a compulsive cheater. He begs for forgiveness, at the same time as he warns that he hasn’t reformed. Potential partners beware. PARELES

Minimal, syncopated, glitchy synthesizer chords puff like digital smoke signals in “Frequency.” It’s a twitchy, tentative love song — “She’s got a frequency and I caught it all over me,” Amelia Meath sings, sometimes harmonizing with herself — that punches big rhythmic silences into its pop structure. The video, directed by Moses Sumney, is even twitchier. PARELES

What makes many of Stevie Wonder’s ballads so timeless is their balance of personal sensitivity and serious wisdom. The vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, 31, has a good handle on that alchemy. On “The Window,” her standout 2018 LP, she covered Wonder’s “Visions” accompanied only by a piano. And on “Artemis” — the self-titled debut of a new jazz supergroup featuring the saxophonist Melissa Aldana and the drummer Allison Miller, among others — Salvant tackles his “If It’s Magic.” The full ensemble partakes, but subtly. The focus stays squarely on Salvant’s commanding but chiffony vocals, and on the respect she pays to Wonder’s lyrics: They’re an ode to love that, more than four decades on, remains eloquent enough to override any cynic. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

The bassist Eric Revis’s strategy as a bandleader is a lot like his wide-ranging résumé as a side musician: He seeks out improvisers of varied dispositions, reveling in difference and balancing flexibility with control. For his eighth album, the excellent “Slipknots Through a Looking Glass,” Revis assembled a dream team of Gen X jazz eclectics: the saxophonists Darius Jones and Bill McHenry, the pianist Kris Davis and the drummer Chad Taylor. “ProByte” is one of the album’s gentler pieces, but it’s far from tension-free. Davis lights the match with a sprinkle of chiming tones on dampered piano strings before Revis and the saxophonists begin to craft a cycle of counterpoint and shifting harmony. McHenry and Jones venture a pair of wrangling solos, both adapting to the composition’s constant motion by refusing to land, seeking steadiness in the atmosphere above shifting ground. RUSSONELLO



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