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With three members sharing the frontman role, the dB’s sound more like a full-fledged band now than they ever did. They’ve become a genuinely better band, too, capable of crooning their way through lush, orchestral pop gems such as “Far Away and Long Ago” and muscular, psychedelic epics such as “The Adventures of Albatross and Doggerel.”

A multidecade breakup can sap a band of its power. Here, the long break has only added depth and maturity to the group’s songwriting.

Ashes and Roses

Mary Chapin Carpenter

Rounder Records


Don’t let the casual tempos and softly strummed acoustic guitars fool you. “Ashes and Roses” is Mary Chapin Carpenter’s heaviest album to date, inspired by the death of her father, her divorce and the pulmonary embolism that nearly took her life.

Songs such as “What To Keep And What To Throw Away” are steeped in heartbreak, and Miss Carpenter’s voice - often backed by little more than a string instrument and light percussion - registers every ounce of hurt. There’s redemption to be found at the end of “Ashes and Roses,” though, and the bare-boned arrangements help turn this 13-track album into a classic-sounding folk record. A guest appearance by James Taylor, who duets with Miss Carpenter on “Soul Companion,” certainly doesn’t hurt, either.