JOSE JAMES, Lean On Me  (Blue Note): ***

The R&B/jazz chameleon again contextualizes his music with respectful homage to an artistic mentor — here, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bill Withers. James doesn’t rearrange songs (as he did for 2015’s sterling Billie Holiday tribute “Yesterday I Had the Blues”) so much as refine them for his more intimate delivery, which lacks Withers’ baritone earthiness. “Use Me” showcases tasteful solos by saxophonist Marcus Strickland and trumpeter Takuya Kuroda but could use Withers’ electric thrill; lesser-known tracks like the funk-bubbling “Kissing My Love” and “Lovely Day” (with Lalah Hathaway) work best. Opportunities feel missed, but Withers, who famously retired from performing after contributing “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lean On Me” to the American Songbook, deserves celebration. josejamesmusic.com

HEATHER MORGAN, Borrowed Heart  (Eleven Feathers): ***½

The Nashville tunesmith, who’s composed songs for Brett Eldredge and Keith Urban, makes an auspicious solo debut with a dozen songs begun during an unexpected Joshua Tree retreat that cathartically grieve a relationship’s heat and dissolution. Morgan’s aching soprano conveys heartbroken resilience with a tensile strength that recalls Lee Ann Womack. Her singing’s lovely but her songs are the draw, although “Highway Robbery” sounds like fury drained of real feeling. Cue up the melodies and metaphors of the title track and “Arms of a Lion” (both co-written with Lori McKenna), the vulnerable “Paper,” and “Morning Light.” heathermorganmusic.com

THOMAS DYBDAHL, All These Things  (V2): ***

Reteamed with producer Larry Klein, the Norwegian singer-songwriter huddled in an LA studio with an A-team of musicians’ musicians (drummer James Gadson, guitarists David Baerwald and Dean Parks, keyboardist Patrick Warren) whose nuanced playing colors his cinematic brooding with painterly insight. Guest vocalist Lera Lynn’s smoky tones spark heat with Dybdahl’s hushed self-recriminations during “When I Go (Bad Sign),” but standouts like the title track and rueful jam “Look at What We’ve Done” mostly suggest late-night soul searching and solo drives. thomasdybdahl.no

ADRIANNE LENKER, abysskiss  (Saddle Creek): ***½

The Big Thief frontwoman’s latest solo outing finds her mostly solo and communing with her acoustic guitar (and, occasionally, piano). Space and quiet give the sense of listening in as someone creates melodic, image-rich poetry in their living room. A circular guitar pattern combines with rhythmic urgency to hypnotic effect during “symbol”; during “from,” silverware clatter punctuates pretty fingerpicking like reality intruding on a dream as Lenker chants, “Be my man” like a wistful mantra after insisting “no one can” in her girlishly pinched voice. The intimacy’s startling. adriannelenker.com