Sounds Like: Mississippi-born Jones died at 91 two Mays ago, and his gospel/folk duets with stellar bassist Haden see the light of day—and they are stunningly pleasant.
Free Association: Expertly executed covers of American standards; no words, just notes.
For Fans Of: Chopin/Gershwin x the Duke, Metheny + Reinhardt, aging gracefully.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Friends
Sounds Like: You know them from Graceland, but when this African singing troupe teams up for standard covers with stale and waning talent, things go horribly wrong.
Free Association: Strike one is Josh Groban, two is Natalie Merchant, three is Sarah McLachlan.
For Fans Of: Faux internationalism, tribal vases and fertility masks, NPR, patchouli.
Trouble With This
Sounds Like: The self-taught Philly native and sensitive bear’s third LP embraces emo electro, wrapping his benign, guitar-born lovesickness in synthetic beats and blips.
Free Association: For the lonely Bike Stop set who go home sad and heartbroken.
For Fans Of: Corey Hart x Owl City, Richard Marx + George Michael, hairy chests.
PW's Music Issue 2014