A comeback seven years in the making toplines this week’s new music releases, and when you see who is helping the artist in question make said comeback, methinks you’ll agree with me that it was certainly worth the interminable wait. Read on:


Shine, her tenth studio album, arrives in stores in late March, and in the runup to that event, modern country legend Martina McBride is reissuing her first three studio records in a brand new, ridiculously affordable — the list price is under ten bucks! — three-disc package. Even though it contains what remains one of her very best songs, a deeply affecting heartbreaker called “That’s Me,” 1992’s The Time Has Come is a first record through and through, loaded to the gills with middling material and non-modulated singing. The Way That I Am, released the following year, revealed traces of the artist that McBride was destined to become (particularly on the sassy smash “My Baby Loves Me,” the song that gives the album its title, and “Independence Day,” the controversial anthem about spousal abuse which landed its performer on the front page of every newspaper when it became a touchstone in the wake of Nicole Brown Simpson’s murder), but it wouldn’t be until 1995’s breakthrough triumph Wild Angels and its six (!) massive radio hits (including the magnificent “Phones Are Ringin’ All Over Town,” another of my all-time McBride favorites) that she would truly hit her stride. If you missed any of this back in the day, you’ll find no more attractive opportunity to play catch up and correct that foolishness.

In a brilliant new way to raise funds for their cause, which provides food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and all other humanitarian aid to children in the globe’s most devastated and war-torn regions, the famed charity War Child has teamed up with record company Astralwerks to create War Child Presents Heroes, a record for which they invited some of music’s most esteemed songwriters — Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, and Debbie Harry, among countless others — to choose one of their best-loved works, and also to choose an artist he or she admires to cover it. The results: brand new Grammy winner Duffy turns in a warm version of the Beatles’ “Live and Let Die”; my darling Adam Cohen takes on dad Leonard’s “Take This Waltz” employing the same gentle ferocity with which he tackled “Bird On a Wire” a couple of years back; TV on the Radio takes on Bowie’s iconic “Heroes”; and Franz Ferdinand turns Blondie’s classic “Call Me” completely inside out. Keep an ear peeled for this collection: it’s a fascinating gem.

For Mr. Lucky, his first studio album since 2002’s sterling Always Got Tonight (which featured the surprise radio smash “Let Me Down Easy,” his strongest single since “Wicked Game” made him a household name), the suave, soulful Chris Isaak has pulled out the big guns: the album includes duets with two of music’s most magnificent women, the wondrous Trisha Yearwood (who, incidentally, is the first guest on Isaak’s new talk show, which debuts Thursday night on the Biography Channel); and the ferociously brilliant Michelle Branch (who is getting ready to have a huge year, with her sure-to-be-stunning cover of Joni Mitchell’s monumental “A Case of You” — the Buzz’s favorite song ever, natch! — coming next month, and her hotly-anticipated third album Everything Comes and Goes — which was originally due last fall — arriving in June). This project has been germinating for seven years now, so it’s bound to be killer.

Also noteworthy this week:


  • Rising crunchy star Jake Owen — yup, the same Jake Owen who provided such invaluable assistance to Sugarland and Little Big Town on that stupendous cover of “Life in a Northern Town” that continues to rule my iPod most of a year on — returns with his sophomore effort, Easy Does It.


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