STYLE Rambunctious traditional folk songs.
WORLDVIEW "Street-corner music, parlor music, tavern music, wilderness music, circus music, church music, gutter music, it was all there waiting in those songs" (the liner notes).
OVERALL QUALITY Mr. Springsteen needs "John Henry," "Jacob's Ladder," and "Shenandoah" more than they need him, but you'd never know it from the way he and his ensemble beat the songs into dead horses and then beat them some more.
STYLE "Sonic landscape by Brian Eno."
WORLDVIEW "Because you cannot walk with the holy if you're just a halfway decent man, I don't pretend I'm a mastermind with a genius marketing plan. I'm trying to tap into some wisdom. Even a little drop will do."
OVERALL QUALITY In '86 "World Music" blew fresh wind into Mr. Simon's sails (and sales); 20 years later, he's hoping electronics will do the same.
STYLE Ambient, trip-hop-inflected jazz for husky-voiced chanteuse and T Bone Burnett production.
WORLDVIEW "I went to the tarot woman yesterday. / She looked at my cards and told me what they say. / 'In your future I see fortune and dreams fulfilled, / but you are such a restless soul.'"
OVERALL QUALITY Attractively beguiling when not beguilingly attractive, and a touch too self-conscious to affect its transformation of atmospheric artifice into atmospheric art.
STYLE Introspective, largely autobiographical country-pop folk-rock.
WORLDVIEW "I wish I was a Christian / and knew what to believe. / I could learn a lot of rules / to put my mind at ease . . . / but I cannot believe / 'cause no one in the Bible / craves my company."
OVERALL QUALITY A moving, revealing, troubling, and occasionally healing attempt at making music commensurate with the absence created by the death of one's parents.
STYLE Various musical styles associated with New Orleans and surrounding environs.
WORLDVIEW "Music will help the people heal. The more the musicians trickle back . . . , the more the city will come back" (Eddie Bo, the liner notes).
OVERALL QUALITY With most of these Louisiana musicians unlikely ever to record an album's worth of compelling material again, the one-song-per-performer format (two in the case of Allen Toussaint) suits them just fine.
Rosanne Cash's dedication of Black Cadillac (Capitol) to the memories of her recently deceased father (Johnny Cash), stepmother (June Carter Cash), and natural mother (Vivian Distin, Johnny Cash's first wife) is anything but nominal. Each of the album's 12 songs represents a facet of Ms. Cash's emotionally complex response to finding herself at 50 with no one left to call her "daughter."
That she articulates her response with succinct eloquence and winsome music (part country-pop, part folk-rock) will surprise no one familiar with her largely excellent 26-year body of work. What makes Black Cadillac particularly fascinating is the specificity with which she wrestles with all that her father came to symbolize, including a genuine if troubled evangelical Christianity. Faith figures prominently in several songs, with Ms. Cash ultimately concluding that she is not capable of sharing her father's belief. She wishes, however, that she were, and perhaps faith and love will follow such hope.