The Jayhawks, Jim James and Galen Ayers with the new and noteworthy 

The Jayhawks, Back Roads and Abandoned Motels (Sony) – This is an unusual sort of covers album, where Gary Louris reworks songs he co-wrote for the likes of Jakob Dylan and the Dixie Chicks. Since most listeners won’t know the tunes, the album feels like classic Jayhawks work, and a natural follow-on to 2016’s Paging Mr. Proust.

Jim James, Uniform Distortion (ATO) – As the next My Morning Jacket album is repeatedly postponed, lead singer Jim James offers his third solo work in little more than a year. This new effort is the most worthy of the trilogy, with grungy stripped-down power ballads critiquing data mining and robot wars.

Galen Ayers, Monument (Bombinate Records) – The daughter of Soft Machine founder Kevin Ayers never intended to become a musician, but after being the caregiver for her ailing father for two years prior to his death, she composed the 10 songs of Monument to confront her grief, delivering the simple but gorgeous melodies with a voice not unlike that of Aimee Mann.


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