ANDERSON EAST, Encore (Low Country): 4 STARS

Reteamed with sympatico producer Dave Cobb, native Alabaman East organically fuses Southern soul, gospel and traditional country throughout his sophomore album, a hooky, rhythmically muscular keeper. Show-stopping ballad “If You Keep Leaving Me,” co-written with Chris Stapleton and Aaron Raitiere, sounds like a lost Otis Redding cut, replete with knife-edged confessions (“If you keep hurting me, I’ll keep wanting you”) and churchy organ swells. Willie Nelson’s “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces” is transformed by similar all-in commitment, horns and harmonies blazing behind East’s fervent testimony, while the raucously unapologetic “Girlfriend” kisses funk. East’s intimate lyrics and melodies turn up the flame; his tough-and-tender rasp makes them sizzle.

GLEN HANSARD, Between Two Shores (Anti): 4 STARS

Motion, release and resolve fuel the Irish songwriter’s third solo album. Throbbing to more of a retro soul groove than 2015’s Grammy-nominated “Didn’t He Ramble,” with Hammond organ and righteous horns backing Hansard’s expressive vocals, it balances romantic contemplation with tracks like the Springsteen-referencing rocker “Roll on Slow” and topical “Wheels on Fire” (“Your one desire/ Is to roll and rule over everyone”). But yearning ballads are the “Once” co-composer’s signature, and the wise “Time Will Be the Healer” doesn’t disappoint: “A life true and full is the best revenge/ ’Cause this time must stand for something in the end.” The message isn’t new, but the reminder’s needed.

KYSHONA ARMSTRONG, The Ride 2.0 (Self-released): 3 STARS

Offering uplifting messages while also her heart, the former music therapist showcases her dynamic vocal and emotional range (“Lonely,” “Love Has Got Me Here”), decries racism (the thundering “Same Blood”), and soulfully champions empowerment (reggae-kissed groover “The Best of You,” “Burdens Down”). It’s more pop-oriented than 2014’s “Go,” less loose than her live shows, but her message and commanding singing resonate, especially with standout track “Do Nothin’”: “Do somethin’, say somethin’, be somethin’/ …I know you want to spread your wings in flight.”

ERIN ENDERLIN, Whiskeytown Crier (Blue Slate): 3½ STARS

“Bartender, hit me/ My glass is half empty/ It has been since he’s been gone,” the Nashville tunesmith moans in her thick Arkansas drawl during “The Blues Are Alive & Well,” a stone country weeper that namechecks Keith Whitley and sounds like something LeeAnn Womack or Patty Loveless could have recorded. A confessional interpretation of Gram Parsons’ “Hickory Wind” nods to seminal influences, but Enderlin’s her own sharp-eyed songwriter; check out story songs “His Memory Walks on Water,” “Broken” and swampy murder ballad “Caroline.”