David Broza (Mesa): You may not have heard of this singer-songwriter, but in Israel, he's roughly the equivalent of Bruce Springsteen in popularity. This collection includes the best songs from his two albums previously released in the US (including the radio hit "When a Man Holds a Woman" plus two new songs: "Isadora," a tribute to Isadora Duncan, sung in Hebrew; and the theme song for UNICEF's International Children's Day.) Combining folk rock melodies with lyrics drawn from contemporary poetry, Broza, often compared to Leonard Cohen, creates haunting, arresting music.
-- Frank Scheck
Joan Baez - Ring Them Bells (Guardian): Folk legend Joan Baez is joined by some impressive singer-songwriters on this great collection of '70s ballads and folk songs recorded live at the Bottom Line in New York. Those who complement Baez's unfading talent include Mary Chapin Carpenter on "Diamonds & Rust"; Kate and Anna McGarrigle on "Willie Moore"; Mimi Farini on "Swallow Song"; Mary Black on "Ring Them Bells"; and Indigo Girls on "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright." Dar Williams shines on "You're Aging Well," - her tribute to Baez.
-- Deb Purington
Denise Jannah - I Was Born in Love With You (Blue Note):What a bright future awaits Denise Jannah, a young jazz singer born in Surinam, but who now lives in Holland. She has a straightforward style and rich, resonant voice, which envelopes a song with the utmost believability. Jannah's credibility is rooted in her respect for lyrics, which also enables her to deeply personalize the songs' meanings. She is equally adept with ballads such as "I Didn't Know About You" and up-tempo tunes such as "A Night in Tunisia." Bob Belden's orchestra and octet, and the Cyrus Chestnut Trio with featured soloist Javon Jackson, provide excellent backing.
-- Dick Bogle