Arts

Maren Morris Revels in a Fresh Start, and 10 More New Songs

Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new tracks. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at [email protected] and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage, and The Amplifier, a twice-weekly guide to new and old songs.

Maren Morris, ‘The Tree’

Maren Morris forcefully pulls free of a bad relationship in “The Tree,” an arena-scale waltz full of botanical imagery: “The rot at the roots is the root of the problem/But you wanna blame it on me.” Buttressed by a massive drumbeat, power chords and a choir, Morris has clearly made up her mind: “I’ll never stop growing.” JON PARELES

Mitski, ‘My Love Mine All Mine’

Mitski’s seventh album, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” — out Friday — is suffused with a luminous warmth and an easy confidence that are both on ample display on the single “My Love Mine All Mine.” “Nothing in the world belongs to me but my love,” Mitski sings in a clarion croon, as a chorus of backing singers fill out the atmosphere around her. Tinkling barroom piano and the occasional whine of pedal steel give the song a nocturnal country flair, while Mitski leads the way at an unhurried tempo that seems to slow time itself. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Cat Power, ‘She Belongs to Me (Live at the Royal Albert Hall)’

Last year, Chan Marshall, who records as Cat Power, played a full performance recreating Bob Dylan’s fabled 1966 “Royal Albert Hall” concert (which actually took place at the Manchester Free Trade Hall). On Nov. 10, she’ll release a live album of the full 15-song set, including this stirring rendition of “She Belongs to Me.” A prolific and intuitive interpreter of other people’s songs, Marshall brings the right balance of reverence and invention to this 1965 Dylan classic, slowing the original’s tempo and conveying a coziness through the crackling, bonfire warmth of her voice. ZOLADZ

Chris Stapleton, ‘Think I’m in Love With You’

The stolid backbeat, laconic guitar hooks, stealthy organ chords and hovering string arrangement of “Think I’m in Love With You” come straight out of 1970s Memphis soul. So do Chris Stapleton’s vocal choices; his leaps, quavers and evasions of the beat can be traced to Al Green. But Stapleton brings his own drama and grit to the style; his homage carries an emotional charge. PARELES

Parchman Prison Prayer, ‘Break Every Chain’

Inmates at Mississippi’s notorious Parchman Farm prison sing at weekly church services. Like the folklorist Alan Lomax in the 1940s, earlier this year the producer Ian Brennan visited Parchman to record. In one Sunday session, he gathered fervent gospel performances, most of them solo and unaccompanied, from prisoners, collectively billed as Parchman Prison Prayer. Proceeds from the album, “Some Mississippi Sunday Morning,” will benefit the Mississippi Department of Corrections Chaplain Services. One is from M. Kyles, a prisoner in his 50s, whose voice sails aloft as he extols the power of Jesus’s name to “Break Every Chain.” PARELES

Nas, ‘Fever’

Nas, like hip-hop itself, turns 50 this year, and in “Fever” he’s “celebrating years of flows and crazy wordplay/Seasoned, I’m leaving my 40s, I’m a griot.” Backed by minor-chord loops of guitars, strings and distant voices, his raspy voice is both proud and generous: “I wish at least 50 on all my good people,” he declares. PARELES

Loraine James featuring Morgan Simpson, ‘I DM U’

The electronic producer Loraine James teams up with the indefatigable muscle power of Morgan Simpson — Black Midi’s drummer — in “I DM U” from her album out next week, “Gentle Confrontation.” She dispenses sustained chords and sporadic bass lines at a stately tempo; he’s all over his kit, barreling ahead at quadruple speed, impulsive where she’s measured. But they’re working in tandem, moving forward together. PARELES

Jenn Champion, ‘Jessica’

Grief and anger roil in “Jessica,” a quietly devastated ballad about a friend’s fatal overdose. Jenn Champion, who has been making music since she was a member of Carissa’s Wierd in the 1990s, double tracks her voice over a cycle of three basic, echoey piano chords as she mourns “stupid dead Jessica,” a friend she loved, who couldn’t overcome her addiction: “Honestly, who OD’s in their [expletive] 40s,” she sings, even as she recognizes, “Our friends die but we keep getting older.” PARELES

Snail Mail, ‘Easy Thing (Demo)’

Lindsey Jordan’s recordings as Snail Mail have increasingly reveled in the possibilities of studio production. But songs have to start somewhere, and “Easy Thing” — an unreleased song that will be included on an EP of demos from the 2021 album “Valentine” — harks back to Jordan’s sparse early recordings. It’s a waltz backed by just a few home-recorded tracks — guitars, flutelike synthesizer and an occasional harmony vocal — as Jordan sings about still longing for an ex who moved on. “Forget about that girl,” she urges, though not exactly confidently. “We’ll always have that easy thing.” PARELES

Kavita Shah and Bau, ‘Flor de Lis’

On her quietly riveting new album, “Cape Verdean Blues,” the vocalist and folklorist Kavita Shah teams up with Bau, a guitarist and one of Cape Verde’s best-known musicians, to explore the island nation’s repertoire of traditional ballads and dance songs. But on “Flor de Lis,” Shah and Bau take a detour to Brazil, playing this popular samba by the MPB musician Djavan. Shah’s vocals maintain pitch-perfect clarity even as she arcs a high melody over the chorus. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Steve Lehman, ‘Chimera’

How Steve Lehman gets music to sound the way he does is both an object of fascination and, to some degree, a mystery we must accept. To unpack it, you’d have to understand how he uses spectral harmony — a computer-assisted approach that treats the shapes and contours of sound waves as the basis for harmony — and that’s before you even begin to decode his densely scribbled, tone-smearing saxophone lines. Indeed, “Chimera” is an apt name for a piece of his. This version of the tune (which has been in his repertoire for years) begins with two minutes of Chris Dingman’s vibraphone mixing with other mallets and chimes, thickening the air before Lehman’s alto saxophone enters, joined by a full horn section, playing in pulses and stabs. Drums and bass put their weight into a tensile, halting rhythm. The tune comes from Lehman’s new album, “Ex Machina,” which he recorded with the Orchestre National de Jazz in France (the birthplace of spectral composition, by the way). Lehman’s music, always flooded with ideas, has rarely felt so fully fleshed out and exposed. RUSSONELLO

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