ROBERT PLANT, Carry Fire (Nonesuch): 4 STARS

The iconic rocker’s 11th studio album, recorded in west England and Wales, is a stirring, moody commentary on his musical journey and the culture-crossing times in which we now live. Plant and his Sensational Space Shifters most compellingly weave Americana melodies and instrumentation with African desert blues, Middle Eastern percussion and rubbery trip-hop rhythms — and the mystical with the political — during the adventurous title track, acoustic-textured “Season’s Song,” “Bones of Saints,” and Ersel Hickey’s 1957 rockabilly romp “Bluebirds Over the Mountain,” retooled as a yearning duet with Chrissie Hynde. There’s a lot to get lost in, and that’s all to the good.

HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER, Hallelujah Anyhow (Merge):3½ STARS

In its best moments, Nancy Wilson’s smoothly produced post-Heart venture with vocalist Liv Warfield (formerly of Prince’s New Power Generation) lets Wilson stretch out on guitar while hitting Heart’s empowering-anthem sweet spot. “Get Loud” sets the defiantly rocking tone, its message essentially reprised with gospel-kissed closer “Never Say Die.” The material is uneven but the band flexes well-muscled performance chops, delivering funkier, soulful takes on Heart’s “Even It Up” and “These Dreams,” plus a live track, “Mind Your Business,” that demonstrates Warfield’s more than mere substitute for Wilson’s powerhouse sister.

CÉCILE MCLORIN SALVANT, Dreams and Daggers (Mack Avenue):


The Grammy-winning jazz stylist’s melodic playfulness is dazzling though sometimes emotionally distancing throughout this pristinely recorded double-album set as she slides lightly from sweet, bell-curved soprano to earthier chest tones. Her taste in Broadway, blues and pop plums is interesting and assured, whether delivering a sultry reading of Noel Coward’s “Mad About the Boy,” a slow tease of Ida Cox’s “Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues,” or a coyly timed, impeccably intonated rendition of the Bessie Smith chestnut “You’ve Got to Give Me Some” that provides a wonderful showcase for Aaron Diehl’s sterling piano work.

THE MAVERICKS, Brand New Day (Mono Mundo): 3 STARS

As usual, the rollicking foursome’s hybridization of classic pop and country, old-school rock ‘n’ roll, tango and Tex-Mex goes down pleasurably as a margarita with a generous kick. Accordion, banjo, saxophone and Eddie Perez’s stinging guitar lines shimmy and ring through merrily engaging tracks like “Easy As It Seems,” “I Will Be Yours” and “Ride With Me.” None of the songs are as distinctive as Raul Malo’s seductively robust tenor, but they make for a cheering party soundtrack. At the Regent in Downtown LA Friday, Oct. 6.