There are almost more Petula Clark collections than there were actual songs (that's saying something), and Sanctuary's three-disc Songs of My Life: The Essential Petula Clark is one of the better ones. Split into three themes, "Swinging Times," "Mellow Moods," and "Beautiful Sounds," Songs of My Life relies heavily on the English pop sensation's peak '60s and '70s output. All of the key radio hits are here ("Downtown," "I Know a Place," "My Love," "This Is My Song"), as well as countless ballads, uptempo pop gems, and choice covers. Fans looking for a decent career overview (sadly, none of Clark's vast arsenal of French hits are here) may find the 78 tracks that populate Songs of My Life a bit overwhelming, but they're well worth spending some quality time alone with.
Anyone reckless enough to have typecast Angel Olsen according to 2013's Burn Your Fire For No Witness is in for a rethink with her third album, MY WOMAN. The crunchier, blown-out production of the former is gone, but that fire is burning wilder. Her disarming, timeless voice is even more front-and-center. Yet, the strange, raw power and slowly unspooling incantations of her previous efforts remain. Over two previous albums, she gave us reverb-shrouded poetic swoons, shadowy folk, grunge-pop band workouts and haunting, finger-picked epics. MY WOMAN is an exhilarating complement to her past work, and one for which Olsen recalibrated her writing/recording approach and methods to enter a new music-making phase.
Major labels proved not to be a welcome fit for retro-soul-blues revivalist Eli "Paperboy" Reed. Neither Come and Get It!, his 2010 album for Capitol, nor 2014's gussied-up wannabe crossover Nights Like This brought in the wider audience they so desperately worked to attain, leaving the guitarist to pursue an indie direction for 2016's My Way Home. The title makes it plain that Reed believes he's the prodigal son returning to his roots and, fittingly, My Way Home has a considerable gospel bent in its 11 songs. Since 2013, Reed has been teaching an after-school program called Gospel for Teens in Harlem and that sensibility infuses My Way Home, turning the record into a testament to reconnecting to R&B roots of all kinds.