Analog Man

Producers: Jeff Lynne, Joe Walsh

Fantasy Records/Concord

Release Date: June 5

Personal beyond the title's suggestion that the guitar great is a disconnected Luddite, Joe Walsh details his life in songs that touch on his marriage, family and putting the "Life's Been Good" saga in the rearview mirror. "Analog Man" is Walsh's first solo album in 20 years, yet it shares far more common ground with his superb albums from nearly 40 years ago, the ones that balance a ferocious blend of rhythm and lead electric guitar and tender balladry. "I'm lost in a fog," he sings on the rocking title track as he reminisces about vinyl and battles the current generation's addiction to screens. He references his own addictions on "One Day at a Time" and his settling down on the Eagles-sounding "Lucky That Way" and "Family." You can't fault him for his honesty, even if some lyrics are overly sentimental, especially when he delivers the perky "Wrecking Ball" and barn-burners like "Funk 50" and the anything-but-analog "India." Besides producer/musician Jeff Lynne, old pals Ringo Starr and Kenny Passarelli make appearances.

Kelly Hogan

I Like to Keep Myself in Pain

Producers: Kelly Hogan, Andy Kaulkin

Anti- Records

Release Date: June 5

The flame of Kelly Hogan's talent has been smoldering in the shadows for years. She's released a handful of lauded but little-heard alt-country albums and sang with everyone from Neko Case to Jakob Dylan. Her first solo album in 11 years, "I Like to Keep Myself in Pain," is set to be her long-overdue breakout record. The writers who penned songs exclusively for the project - Andrew Bird, Robyn Hitchcock, M. Ward, Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields - is a testament to Hogan's reputation. Others offer their songsmith services and Hogan's band here includes R&B legends like Booker T. Jones on organ and James Gadson on drums. Hogan's pipes easily hit the high bar set by these acclaimed collaborators. The Atlanta-born singer leans passionately and purposefully into the album's blend of country, alt-folk and classic Southern soul (having players like Booker T. on hand doesn't hurt when it comes to the lattermost), never overplaying her hand and always sounding completely committed to each tune.


The Absence

Producer: Heitor Pereira

Decca Records

Release Date: May 29

For her third album, singer/songwriter Melody Gardot heads into the sexy South American territory. Gardot is an adventurous sort, mining three distinct areas on her first three releases: Her 2006 debut ("Worrisome Heart") positioned her as a jazzy balladeer, 2009 sophomore effort ("My One and Only Thrill") showcased an affinity for showtune models, and "The Absence" starts in beach sunset rhythms of Antonio Carlos Jobim's Rio and closes in after-hours fado tavernas. Accustomed as jazz fans have become to artists falling under the sway of bossa nova, Gardot never parks herself on a beach blanket barstool for long. On the song "Amalia" she connects with the same Brazil Paul Simon explored on "The Rhythm of the Saints." Her "So Long" is a direct descendent of João Gilberto's hushed work, and "If I Tell You I Love You" and Goodbye" land between cabaret and Tom Waits' mid-'80s albums. The band of Brazilian composer Heitor Pereira (guitar), John Leftwich (bass), Paulihno Da Costa (percussion) and drummers Jim Keltner and Peter Erskine provides understated support that wholly complements her vocals.


MTV Unplugged

Producer: Juan Luis Guerra

Universal Music Latino/Universal Music Latin Entertainment

Release Date: May 29

Juanes' acoustic reading of more than a decade of hits is a lyrical journey where his traditional rock guitars are accompanied by choral accents, touches of jazz piano and tropical horns. Under the production of another star, Dominican Juan Luis Guerra (and with Spanish troubadour Joaquin Sabina and Brazil's Paula Fernandes as guest artists), Juanes turns many of his hits into more introspective-and often slower and elegant-songs. That they survive these readings is testament to their melodic and lyrical weight. Some acquire tropical beats, including "Para Tu Amor" (bolero) and "Fijate Bien," which gains a dance beat with its use of horns. "A Dios le Pido," one of Juanes' best-known tracks, becomes acoustic, and at one point breaks down into a back-and-forth between vocals and percussion. There are also new tracks on the set, including single "La Señal" and the vaudeville-esque "Azul Sabina," a delightful collaboration with Sabina. And of course there's "La Camisa Negra" in its more acoustic rendition. But with the beat and intent intact, it's a telling bridge between past and present.