Picks and Pans Review: Recent Raves

updated 08/22/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/22/2005 01:00AM

Harry Connick Jr., Occasion: Connick on Piano, Vol. 2. Connick gets keyed up for this joyful collaboration with saxophonist Branford Marsalis, making this Occasion an event to remember.

Leela James, A Change is Gonna Come. This newcomer's retro R&B captures the soulful essence of an era gone by; her husky vocals conjure shades of Mavis Staples, Betty Wright and Tina Turner.

Fountains of Wayne, Out of-State Plates. A double CD of out-takes, early demos and covers plays like a concept album, the overarching theme being pure pop craftsmanship.

John Prine, Fair and Square. On his first new recording in nine years, Prine sings in an oak-barrel growl about love lost and found to melodies that lilt and ache.

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