THE WOOD BROTHERS, One Drop of Truth (Honey Jar/Thirty Tigers): 4 STARS

Brothers Chris and Oliver Wood’s sixth album celebrates simple pleasures — the infectiously funky groove of “Happiness Jones,” “Sparkling Wine,” “Seasick Emotions” — while exploring tensions between opposites. “I’d rather die thirsty than drowned in tears/ Cryin’ and drinkin’ my heart full of fear/ I’d rather die hungry than feastin’ on lies,” they vow on the bluesy, gospel-kissed title track, with percussionist Jano Rix tastily slapping out the backbeat behind swampy slide guitar. Rootsy, unpretentious and musically satisfying. At the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood Friday, Feb. 23.


For her second full-length solo album since departing Blues Music Award-winning family band Trampled Under Foot, the Kansas City bass-playing belter’s toughened up her sound with able assistance from drummer/producer Tony Braunagel and guitarist Johnny Lee Schell, whose past tenure with Bonnie Raitt can be felt in grooving arrangements. Choice covers of Prince, Blind Willie Johnson, Maia Sharp and Bill Withers (the previously unrecorded “Hot Spell”) nail down Nicole’s influences between scorching originals like “Burnin’ For You” and “Someday You Might Change Your Mind” (a duet with Kelly Finnigan) that announce she’s coming into her own.

JANIVA MAGNESS, Love is an Army (Fathead/Blue Elan): 3 STARS

Further developing her Americana-soul-blues blend with producer/co-writer Dave Darling, the formidable diva calls in a fleet of guests, including Cedric Burnside, Charlie Musselwhite and Poco’s Rusty Young. Righteous indignation at the state of the world fires the grooves of “Tell Me,” “Back to Blue” (stylistically akin to Darling’s old band Boxing Gandhis) and “Home,” Magness’ impassioned exhortations buttressed by stirring harmonies. The standout’s Paul Thorn’s weeper “What I Could Do”; Magness and Delbert McClinton are in heart-piercing vocal form as they wearily bare their scars. At McCabe’s in Santa Monica Saturday, Feb. 24; at Central Library in Downtown LA Sunday afternoon, Feb. 25.

HIGH UP, You Are Here (Team Love): 3 STARS

Singer Christine Fink may be less well known and road-seasoned than songwriting sister Orenda Fink (of Azure Ray), but this rough-and-ready set demonstrates she’s no stranger to musically bleeding her heart on her sleeve. Working with Bright Eyes/First Aid Kit producer Mike Mogis, the sisters and their Omaha-based band mash bracing punk energy with horns, organs, and vintage soul style and feel during standout tracks like the stormy “Two Weeks,” swoony “Blue Moon,” “All Torn Up” and faintly CCR-influenced “Girl Walking Home Alone at Night.” RIYL Alabama Shakes and the Suffers.