One of America's great songwriters, Dan Penn, has written dozens of soul classics, often with keyboardist Spooner Oldham. For a while, the two were on the staff of Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Ace Records has just released an entire CD of Penn's demos.
Spaghetti Westerns, Philadelphia soul, opera and the Wu-Tang Clan all come together in the music of Adrian Younge. He has produced and composed two new albums — one with William Hart, the lead singer of The Delfonics, and another with rapper Ghostface Killah.
Franklin found her voice in songs such as "I Never Loved a Man" for Atlantic Records in the 1960s. Before Atlantic, however, Franklin recorded for Columbia, and in those early recordings you can hear the legend just beginning to emerge.
From the inescapable "Call Me Maybe" to Fiona Apple's intricate word puzzles to the strikingly gorgeous return of Iris DeMent, the Fresh Air critic counts down hiss favorite albums and musical moments of the year.