Norah Jones Feels Like Home (Blue Note)
Sublimely gorgeous and simple in its elegance, Norah Jones' second record is everything the 8 million people who bought her debut expected and, surprisingly, more. Teamed again with producer Arif Martin, Jones teeters on the brink of being a jazz singer through 13 tracks of intensely lovely pop, where melodies float effortlessly over quietly understated instrumentation. There are three highly effective covers here, including Tom Waits' “The Long Way Home,” but it's the songs penned by Jones herself and in the company of bassist Lee Alexander that shine most brilliantly. Buy this record.
Judas Priest Metalogy (Columbia Legacy)
With vocalist Rob Halford firmly back in place, Judas Priest have finally released a career-spanning boxed set (four discs) that collects 65 tracks assembled mostly from albums recorded between 1974 and 2002. Among a generous helping of B-sides, previously unreleased recordings and a few demos, however, lurk not less than 10 songs recorded during Halford's Rock Star-like hiatus, meaning you're stuck listening to at least 50 minutes of garbage being spewed by Halford replacement Ripper Owens. All is not lost, though. The initial pressing contains a DVD of the out-of-print concert video, Judas Priest Live.
Dirk Powell Time Again (Rounder)
The problem with many contemporary recordings whose material consists of “old-time” music is the attempt by some artists to represent the songs in their original context. Not only is this impossible, it does a disservice to the belief among artists like multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell that the music is alive. Powell embraces the traditional melodies and lyrical content, but he utilizes his talent in such a way as to push along the evolution of the music, making it relevant to current generations while maintaining its historical integrity. Time Again is an excellent step toward that end.