MARC COHN & BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA, Work to Do  (BMG): ***½

Cohn’s cited Paul Simon’s 1973 recordings with the Dixie Hummingbirds as an early influence, but this John Leventhal-produced collaboration with the venerable Blind Boys of Alabama is more stylistically compatible, thanks to Cohn’s soul- and gospel-grained style. Three studio tracks, including the uplifting title tune and a handclapping take on the Golden Gate Quartet’s “Walking in Jerusalem,” complement seven concert performances recorded for PBS’ “The Kate,” most reprised in harmony-focused arrangements from Cohn’s catalogue. “Walking in Memphis” and the Blind Boys’ “House of the Rising Sun”-based version of “Amazing Grace” provide extended vocal showcases; more quietly powerful are “Ghost Train” and “One Safe Place.” Marccohnmusic.com, blindboys.com

AVERY R. YOUNG, tubman.  (FPE): ****

Chicago poet, composer and teacher Young envisions this arresting set as a soundtrack to his recently published poetry collection “neckbone: visual verses,” but they function independently just fine. From the Staple Singers-influenced “Sit Down Job” through the title track’s call-and-response chills, the album’s rooted in history, 1970s funk, and gospel. “Maasai” is bracketed by 38-second choral interludes, while cello and piano introduce the haunting “Lead in de Wattah: A Revisited Negro Spiritual fo (r) Flint,” which builds from the traditional “Wade in the Water” melody to a crescendo of voices singing their pain and outrage. Listen up. averyryoung.com

THE HAWTTHORNS, Morning Sun (Forty Below): ***

Venice-based wife-and-husband duo of KP Hawthorn (Kirsten Proffit) and Johnny Hawthorn stir country and rock inclinations into a sunny mix bright with chiming guitars, pop hooks and Southern California imagery. Proffit’s “The 405” is a sweet love song with which LA cross-town commuters can relate (“It’s not gonna be a high-speed chase/ No sneakin’ into that diamond lane/ Time is gonna tell me what it’s all about”), while acoustic charmer “Lucky Charmer” and a cover of John Moreland’s “Nobody Gives a Damn About Songs Anymore” nicely showcase the couple’s harmonies and upbeat attitude.  thehawtthorns.com

JESSE DAYTON, Mixtape Vol. 1 (Blue Elan): ***

Always an independent thinker, the erstwhile Rob Zombie collaborator goes his own way rendering songs by AC/DC, Jackson Browne, the Clash, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and ZZ Top, among others, tracing tangled connections between folk, rock and country en route. Backed by pretty acoustic guitars, Dayton’s grounded Texas baritone’s miles from Gordon Lightfoot’s flannel warmth, but his insightful reading of “If You Could Read My Mind” erases genre borders; it’s all delivered from an honest place. At Love Song Bar in Downtown LA Tuesday, Aug. 13. Jessedayton.com