After a series of wallet-busting weeks, we get a brief reprieve this Tuesday, with only a couple of major releases vying for your attention. But don’t be fooled: with new stuff coming next week from Snow Patrol, John Legend, Queen, and Pink (whose red-hot smash “So What” is currently the most-played track at top 40 radio, despite being not half as fun as her instant classic “U + Ur Hand”), among many others, this week is hardly a harbinger of what’s to come. In other words, enjoy this breather while you can.


She’s had a tough climb in the near-decade since her iconic smash “I Hope You Dance” carried her to the (ultimately fleeting) Shania-level of stardom: despite its vastly underrated title track, her uneven 2002 effort Something Worth Leaving Behind was an across the board failure, having been deemed too pop for country stations to play, and vice versa; in 2005, she made a sharp U-turn back to the twangy side with the hilariously retrograde There’s More Where That Came From, and while the critical hosannas were free-flowing (deservedly so, too, especially where the devastating lead single “I May Hate Myself in the Morning” was concerned), that record likewise failed to fly off the store shelves. Now back with her sixth album Call Me Crazy, Lee Ann Womack finds herself at a peculiar career crossroads: having been supplanted in her native realm by young upstarts like Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, and Carrie Underwood, it remains to be seen if Womack can downshift into the already-crowded arena of country’s elder stateswomen. (With Reba, Martina, and Trisha comfortably holding court there, and with the format still largely viewed as a man’s game, that seems far from a sure bet.) Nevertheless, Womack continues to prove herself as a vital, eternally intriguing artist, and Crazy should extend her streak of worthy efforts.

Thirty-two years after the release of their last album, the fierce, daring ladies behind the trailblazing soul trio Labelle have finally reunited for a new album, Back to Now. After kick-starting the disco movement with their classic jam “Lady Marmalade,” the group split in 1976 under tense circumstances, and its members Nona Hendryx, Sarah Dash, and Patti LaBelle each and all moved on to varying degrees of solo success. Having long since settled their differences, the ladies have come together several times over the years — most notably with a Grammy-nominated appearance on 1995’s To Wong Foo soundtrack — and decided to make it official late last year at the behest of Lenny Kravitz, who co-wrote and produced a handful of tracks on Now. This probably won’t be a commercial smash, and that’s probably beside the point: now 64, LaBelle still makes it look easy, with a commanding voice as powerful as ever and enough moxie to match. This oughta be a thrill ride.

Also noteworthy this week:


  • Following the hand that Sugarland played to commercial perfection last summer, the deluxe version of Lucky Old Sun, Kenny Chesney‘s eleventh studio album, dropped last week, followed in kind by this week’s release of the standard version .

  • Waylon Forever, an eight-track collection of the final recordings laid down by the legendary outlaw Waylon Jennings.

  • Following the enormous triumphs born out of their recent partnerships with The Eagles and Journey, this week Wal-Mart turns loose its latest exclusive: Black Ice, the new album from Hall of Fame rockers AC/DC.

  • Likely to be the valedictorian of the fourth quarter (given that its predecessor was last year’s best-selling album), the soundtrack for Disney’s forthcoming High School Musical 3: Senior Year matriculates this week.


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