It's impossible not to have immeasurably high expectations of a new Carole King recording.

It's impossible not to have immeasurably high expectations of a new Carole King recording. After all, she has written some of the best-loved tunes in pop history. On her first effort in more than a decade, King succeeds at the near-impossible by meeting (and sometimes surpassing) every expectation, doing so by wisely sidestepping the temptation to dabble in trendy sounds. Instead, Love Makes the World is like stepping out of time and visiting a hyper-reality where great songs that are low on frills actually matter. The title track is worthy of King's golden songbook—as are the two glorious set-closing ballads, "Safe" and "This Time." Both are intimate, romantic gems that feature King in her most effective environment: alone with her piano and minimal accompaniment. In a sea of post-Lilith Fair female troubadours, Love Makes the World shows the kids how it's really done. Distributed by Koch.—LF