Ebony & Ivory

As Nelson points out in her liner notes, this is her 20th album.

As Nelson points out in her liner notes, this is her 20th album. That's a substantial career, one based in this case on Nelson's genuine feel for the blues. When Nelson founded Mother Earth in the '60s, she had a strong voice, an attribute that has only grown richer with time. She can still knock us back with a rugged blues number, which she does here with a cover of Bekka Bramlet's "Strongest Weakness." Nelson stretches out a bit stylistically, most notably on the Alice Newman tune "Last Chance," a song with a decidedly Irish vibe, accented by John Mock's pennywhistle. She also revisits her country music inclinations, jamming with Marcia Ball on "Got a New Truck," a song that she co-wrote with Ball and that showcases Ball's unique Austin/New Orleans songwriting sensibility. Mainly, though, Nelson goes with her first love—blues and soulful R&B—where she's right at home.—PVV