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Soundbite

Our critics' picks in new releases

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The preeminent female jazz vocalist on the scene today, Wilson continues to scrape the soil away from her tangle of Mississippi roots, updating earth-toned blues with modern lyrical touches of her own. Against a backdrop of unplugged exotica (finger-picked guitars, banjos and African percussion), her rich timbre and broad tone dominate the scenery. Unlike many watch-me-now singers, Wilson communicates with feeling, not virtuosity.

But her meandering original tunes don't yet measure up to the carefully chosen covers, which range from Muddy Waters to vintage Dylan. Wilson's unforgettable take on "Lay Lady Lay" cuts everything else on the disc, warmed by hectic hand-drums that perc like cafe Cubano.

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