Abbey Dub (Gold Lion Records)
If a band covers Beatles songs, it should definitely bring something new to the table—after all, the world doesn't need another saccharine version of "Something." This project brings together stellar local musicians for a reggae version of Abbey Road that's as entertaining as it is unlikely. Other reggae groups have tackled the likes of Radiohead and Pink Floyd, and the sonic expansiveness of that material lends itself to dub interpretations. But Beatles melodies present more of a challenge, because they're so tightly crafted. Here, those melodies are enhanced, as beats shift and rhythms swing around them. As a result, the songs are reenergized, and even "Something" sounds new again.
Yellow Dubmarine plays The 8x10 club on November 5.
Night of Hunters (Deutsche Grammophon)
Amos drew heavily upon her Peabody Conservatory days to compose this song-suite inspired by 300 years of classical music, with variations on themes by Chopin, Bach, and a handful of other heavyweights. Those familiar with Amos's work won't be surprised to hear she wedded those compositions to a story involving a talking fox, the Fire Muse, and a struggle for female empowerment. If you aren't a woman who runs with the wolves (or the foxes), or if you tend to shy from fairyland narratives, the lyrics might be off-putting, but the music soars. The classical genre suits Amos, and she animates the entire project with a bold grandeur that nods to tradition and pulls the music into modernity. She even throws in a few surprises, like on "Job's Coffin," with its gentle blues swing, fluttering clarinet, and guest vocals by her 11-year-old daughter Natashya, who sounds a bit like Joanna Newsom. Amos's piano playing is impressive throughout, and she echoes the European masters with elegance and a flair for the dramatic. The folks at Peabody should be proud.
Selected Shorts: New American Stories (Symphony Space)
This spoken-word set includes stories by Sherman Alexie, the Native-American author of this year's One Maryland One Book selection, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian-born Hopkins grad who won a MacArthur "genius" award a few years ago. Alexie's "Breaking and Entering" and Adichie's "The Thing Around Your Neck"—read by B.D. Wong and Condola Rashad, respectively—underscore the power of unadorned storytelling, as simple words communicate complex realities.