CODY CHESNUTT, My Love Divine Degree

(Handwritten): 3 Stars

The Georgia neo-soulman remains idealistic and passionate throughout this uneven, 14-track set. His loamy yet sweet baritone is affecting whether envisioning alternate futures (the jamming “Africa the Future” and Raphael Saadiq-featuring “Bullets in the Street and Blood”), dreaming over calliope (“Always Sebrena”), or taking it to church (“Have You Heard Anything From the Lord Today”). A shorter EP might have sharpened focus and production, but Chesnutt sounds more concerned with his message than its platform. At Bardot in Hollywood June 19.


(Compass): 4 Stars

A smoldering gumbo of country, blues, R&B, soul, gospel and rockabilly — the first of McNally’s promising albums to deliver her smoky tones and Southern storytelling with a consistently winning set of songs. Credit producer Rodney Crowell, whose “You Made Me Feel for You” charts the album’s earthy, roots-rocking course. Standout tracks include an intimate reading of Emmylou Harris’ “Prayer in Open D,” a greasy slide through J.J. Cale’s “Low Rider,” and McNally’s Booker T-style “I Went to the Well” and bluesy, sexism-decrying “Banshee Moan”: “Attack your smarts until you’re numb/ Is how they make you feel dumb/ … In the mirror there’s a girl/ Just tryin’ to make it in the world.”

DAN AUERBACH, Waiting on a Song

(Nonesuch/Easy Eye): 3½ Stars

Neither as intense as the Black Keys nor as brooding as his 2009 foray “Keep It Hid,” Keys frontman Auerbach’s second solo album radiates the warmth of ’70s AM radio and vintage country and soul. Highlights include the jaunty, writer’s block-bemoaning title track, co-written with John Prine (“I’ve been hitching, I’m been thumbing/ I can almost hear one coming”); the twangy “Cherrybomb”; “Shine on Me,” featuring Mark Knopfler’s instantly recognizable guitar over a rubbery beat; and the Spinners-style soul of “Undertow.” At the Grammy Museum in Downtown LA June 13.


(James Mahogany Books): 3 Stars

Intimate yet surreal, the Dublin troubadour’s obliquely poetic, electronically sculpted fourth album should attract fans of Bon Iver, Sampha, and science fiction. “December 2914” sets what follows in a distant future, from which McMorrow croons about contemporary love, creativity and connection in soul falsetto. Emphatic keyboard chords on “Glad It’s Raining” recall Elton John; “Holding On” evokes traditional R&B while defying genre: “I think there’s tigers here/ They seem confused/ Don’t take things so literally/ This isn’t really a field/ More like a metaphorical representation.”