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New releases from Ariana Grande, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and more 

Ariana Grande, Thank U, Next
  • Ariana Grande, Thank U, Next
Ariana Grande, Thank U, Next (Republic) – Since less than a year has elapsed since Grande’s Sweetener, a period bookended by her split from Pete Davidson, expectations were rife that this would be a Jekyll-Hyde exercise in contrasts. It’s thus surprising to discover her most exuberant but wise album yet, in which tracks like “NASA,” “Bloodline” and the title track capture a pop singer in full emancipation mode. If there is one problem song, “Ghostin’“ not only fails to hit home, but seems to backhandedly support a relationship habit that is downright unethical. The listener can always say, “Thank U, next.”
Tedeschi Trucks Band, Signs
  • Tedeschi Trucks Band, Signs
Tedeschi Trucks Band, Signs (Fantasy/Concord) – When a blues duo releases a concept album lamenting family and mentors who have passed, it’s hard to imagine any aspect being warm and inviting. Yet Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, the power couple from Jacksonville, Florida, pay homage to Derek’s uncle Butch Trucks, as well as musical compatriots Leon Russell and Col. Bruce Hampton, without once sounding maudlin. “I’m Gonna Be There” and “All the World” are among the many tracks that suggest Tedeschi and Trucks will be with us for a while, making the blues less blue.
Charlie Faye & The Fayettes, The Whole Shebang
  • Charlie Faye & The Fayettes, The Whole Shebang
Charlie Faye & The Fayettes, The Whole Shebang (Bigger Better More Records) – Many women have tried to emulate the early-1960s girl-group sound of The Shangri-Las or The Ronettes, but few get it as right as former folkie Charlie Faye. The dozen tracks here are fun party tunes, but far wiser than Faye lets on. With vocalists BettySoo (of trio Nobody’s Girl fame), and soul-jazz singer Akina Adderley, Faye delivers party favors like “I Don’t Need No Baby” and a touch of social conscience in “You Gotta Give It Up.”

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