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On 'Back To Love,' Hamilton Makes Every Syllable Count

Anthony Hamilton's Back to Love was released late last year. Rock critic Ken Tucker says Hamilton's vocals "evoke predecessors ranging from Bill Withers to Teddy Pendergrass to Peabo Bryson," while also maintaining a contemporary sound.


The Black Keys: A Reinvention On 'El Camino.'

The Black Keys just released a new album called El Camino. Rock critic Ken Tucker says that, while the album retains the band's roots in blues and R&B, it's also reaching out to a wider audience with its pop and rock touches.


Joe Henry: An Eclectic And Raucous 'Reverie'

Joe Henry has produced albums by Solomon Burke, Allan Toussaint, Hugh Laurie and others. The versatile singer, songwriter and producer has just released Reverie, his 12th album. It features acoustic performances from a three-day jam session in his basement.


Kelly Clarkson's Vocals Keep Getting 'Stronger'

The former American Idol winner has just released her fifth album, Stronger. Rock critic Ken Tucker says the record doesn't contain Clarkson's strongest material, but still shows off her powerful vocal cords.


Waits: Paying Homage To Outcasts On 'Bad As Me.

The darkness of Tom Waits' lyrics is accentuated by the rumble and rasp of his voice, which sounded old even when he was young. On Bad As Me, Waits reflects on loneliness, life, death and heartbreak. Here, he talks to Terry Gross about performing, being a father and writing his haunting melodies.

Singer and musician Tom Waits sings into a mic on stage with a hat tipped back on his head

The Bangles Are Back, And Still Clever As Ever

Sweetheart of the Sun is the first album in seven years by the The Bangles. The original quartet is now down to a trio: Susanna Hoffs and sisters Debbie and Vicki Peterson. Rock critic Ken Tucker says the new album is a nostalgia trip for a period that's even older than The Bangles' 1980s stardom.


Jeff Bridges: An Actor Who Can Actually Sing

Bridges won an Oscar in 2009 for his performance as a broken-down country singer in the film Crazy Heart, for which her performed his own vocals. He also sings as himself on a new self-titled album.


Beyonce's '4': An Escape From Her Past.

Rock critic Ken Tucker says that Beyonce's new album, titled 4, is something of a risk – it's not merely a collection of new songs, but a personal reassessment of the kind of pop star she wants to be.


Anna McGarrigle: On Life Without Her Sister

The Canadian singer-songwriter discusses the death of her sister and singing partner Kate McGarrigle, who died in 2010. Their early albums have been remastered and are part of a new collection, which also includes previously unreleased songs.


Loudon Wainwright III Looks Back At '40 Odd Years'

Wainwright has just released an elaborate box-set career retrospective called 40 Odd Years -- and the pun in the title is definitely intended. Rock critic Ken Tucker says it presents the singer-songwriter just the way his music does, artful warts and all.


Roy Orbison: A 'Monument' To A Pop Legend.

Roy Orbison didn't really find his identity until he signed with a small Nashville label, Monument, in 1959. Ed Ward looks at the 17 singles that put him, and the Monument label, on the map.


Neil Diamond: The Earliest Days Of A 'Solitary Man'

Diamond has sold 128 million records and written and recorded 37 Top 40 songs. But in the early 1960s, rock historian Ed Ward says, Diamond was writing songs for other musicians while struggling to get his own career off the ground.


Paul Simon: Back In 'Graceland' With 'So Beautiful.'

Paul Simon has again teamed up with producer Phil Ramone for his new album So Beautiful or So What, the first since 2006's Surprise. Rock critic Ken Tucker says the album succeeds in blending elements of Graceland and Simon's self-titled 1972 solo album.


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