Detours |

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CRITIC'S CHOICE

POP

Whoever said you can't go home again forgot to tell Sheryl Crow. Detours, her sixth studio album, takes the pop star back to where it all started, reuniting her with producer Bill Bottrell, with whom she worked on 1993's Tuesday Night Music Club, her multiplatinum, Grammy-winning debut. The move results in some of Crow's catchiest songs since "All I Wanna Do." She continues along the rootsy path of 2005's Wildflower with folk, country and blues turns, while venturing into Middle Eastern territory on "Peace Be upon Us," one of the socially conscious tunes that have plenty of heart as well as hooks.

DOWNLOAD THIS: "Love Is Free," an irresistible, Katrina-inspired sing-along

Mission Control |

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ALT-ROCK

Are the Whigs the next R.E.M.? Both bands hail from Athens, Ga., and there are hints of Michael Stipe and company in the sweet jangle of "I Never Want to Go Home" and the Monster attack of "Already Young." And while Mission Control, the trio's second CD, isn't their Reckoning, it's a tight, rock-solid set. On cuts such as the garage stomper "Like a Vibration," the Whigs actually sound more like they worshipped some other '80s gods: the Replacements.

DOWNLOAD THIS: "Production City," crunchy and hyper-catchy

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This two-CD deluxe edition of the alt-rock hero's 1996 landmark is where it's at. Disc 1 includes the original album plus outtakes, while disc 2 features B-sides and remixes.

JOHN LEGEND Live from Philadelphia
It might seem like a stretch to release a concert album (available only at Target) after just two studio discs, but on the strength of Get Lifted and Once Again, this not-so-ordinary artist really comes to life.

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WILLIE NELSON Moment of Forever
He lassoed Ryan Adams to work on 2006's Songbird. Now Nelson saddles up with coproducer Kenny Chesney on originals and covers (like "Worry B Gone," a duet with Chesney) with a timeless appeal.

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IDINA MENZEL I Stand
She won a Tony for Wicked, but on her second album, Menzel hardly shows the goods to nab a Grammy. While respectable, she fails to truly stand out on pop ballads that give one new appreciation for Celine Dion.

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RINGO STARR Liverpool 8
After all these years, he still suffers from the curse of the drummer—he's not much of a singer. But who can begrudge the 67-year-old Beatle if he wants to warble charming, cheerful ditties like the nostalgic title cut?

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After years in the underground, this R&B singer, 28, is up for best new artist at the Grammys on Feb. 10

ON HER TWO NOMINATIONS It's like having the glass slippers on. You can now go to the ball and meet all of the people you've always wanted to meet. Now I belong in the club.

ON HER MUSICAL LEGACY My stepdad played drums and my mom sang. And I found out that my dad was a singer too [after meeting him for the first time in '04]. His father was blues singer Johnny Ace. So I'm living my parents' dream.

ON SINGING FOR GEORGE CLOONEY He hand-picked me for [his upcoming football comedy] Leatherheads. I play a blues singer in this '20s speakeasy. He really knows jazz. And he was funny and cute in person. Oh girl, hot!