Because my feelings for Joan Armatrading's work are deeply woven into my personal history, I know the difference between a good and a great Armatrading album. I know that her ballads are best when they retain a sense of the power and intensity that she unleashes on her uptempo songs, which in turn are strengthened by her impeccable sense of delicacy and grace. That's a pretty good description of Armatrading's approach on her latest album, 'This Charming Life.'
Will Kimbrough has earned a deserved reputation as a songwriter's songwriter, but it's an honor that has tended to overshadow his equally impressive work as a performer of those songs. His latest solo album, 'Wings,' has him doing what he's always done, which is write great songs and perform them with a quiet elegance.