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Soundbite

Our critics' picks in new releases

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I always considered Lincoln's rickety voice, worn at the edges and wobbling in and out of tune, an acquired taste. But this lovely record, another strings 'n' things affair, has changed my mind. It's Me is for everyone.

Sandwiched between cool ballad arrangements is rousing gospel, straight-up jazz and subtle lyrical asides. Lincoln, a sly ornithologist, likes to ruminate about her fine, feathered friends. Accordingly, her sandpapered pipes commingle with the flute of Jerome Richardson, which chirps canary-like. There's a flyover by Hoagy Carmicheal and Johnny Mercer's majestic "Skylark," and, later, a conversation with Irving Burgie's metaphorical "Yellow Bird."

"What makes breezes blow?" Lincoln asks earnestly. Then, "What makes rivers flow?" A simple couplet rife with poignancy, and the wizened Lincoln, at age 73, is smart enough to read the lyric sans adornment.

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