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James Taylor, Before This World (Concord Music, $15.98) – James Taylor’s skills as a singer, songwriter, and (underrated) guitarist have remained undiminished for decades, as his yearly tours prove. Before This World is JT’s first collection of new songs since 2002.

Stanley Cowell, Juneteenth (Vision Fugitive, $21.98) – This Friday is the 150th anniversary of what is now celebrated as Juneteenth, or African American Emancipation Day. It commemorates the Galveston, Texas event on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger read aloud the contents of “General Order No. 3,” announcing the end of the war, and the total emancipation of slaves. Pianist Stanley Cowell has produced a solo album in tribute, interweaving bits of Civil War-era tunes and hymns into beautiful themes and suites.

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Vinicius Cantuaria, Vincius Canta Antonio Carlos Jobim (Sunnyside, $16.98) – Brazilian singer, songwriter and guitarist Vinicius Cantuaria picks gems from the Jobim catalog. Special guests appear on selected songs: Bill Frisell, Melody Gardot, and Brazilian chanteuse Joyce.

Stile Antico, Sing the Voice of Melody (Harmonia Mundi, Super Audio CD, $13.98) – The young British chamber choir, Stile Antico, is celebrating their 10th anniversary with a budget-priced compilation from their nine albums. Featured are works of Renaissance polyphony by Tallis, Tompkins, Byrd, Sheppard, Gibbons, Gombert, and Victoria, among others.


Love & Mercy at the Avalon

CD CoverThe movie, Love & Mercy—focusing on two periods of Brian Wilson’s lifehas been getting rave reviews. Young Brian (portrayed by Paul Dano) abandons touring with the Beach Boys, and retreats to the studio to work on Pet Sounds—with the expert studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew. And an older Wilson (now played by John Cusack) battles to escape from drugs, and the influence of his sham “doctor.”

Brian Wilson survived, and is still writing, singing and producing. His recently-released album, No Pier Pressure (Capitol Records, $12.98) brings in young guest vocalists Kacey Musgraves, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward (She & Him), as well as Beach Boys Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin.