Graceful music

The Gathering of Spirits, by Carrie Newcomer. Newcomer's strong, tender voice touches on the grace of everyday things—good soft towels, laundry hanging out to dry, eggs "frying like psalms," and the "little earthquakes" that happen as we love each other. Evil certainly exists, but Spirits is a quiet, tenacious reminder that life teems with beauty and redemption is everywhere we look. (Rounder Records)

Anything, Anytime, Anywhere: Singles 1979-2002, by Bruce Cockburn. A "greatest hits" collection of tunes from Cockburn's 30-year career that includes politically aware songs such as "The Trouble With Normal," where "Callous men in business costume speak computerese/Play pinball with the Third World trying to keep it on its knees," and the more introspective "My Beat." The song is about Cockburn's bicycle ride around his new home of Montreal, but it's also about living in—and appreciating—the here and now. (Rounder Records)

Higher Ground is "funkified gospel," according to one reviewer. The indomitable Blind Boys of Alabama (above)—all in their 70s—are shoutin' to the Lord in their latest collection of gospel music—though this time the songs are secular tunes by Stevie Wonder, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and Ben Harper (who adds his vocals to the project), among others. (Real World Records)

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