By Chuck Arnold Carlos Greer
June 10, 2013 12:00 PM

Darius Rucker

True Believers |


If you still needed more convincing about Darius Rucker going country, then the Hootie & the Blowfish refugee provides it on True Believers. Indeed, his third Nashville effort has already produced his sixth No. 1 country hit in the fiddle-happy “Wagon Wheel”—a song originally sketched by Bob Dylan and then fleshed out by Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor. The track features labelmates Lady Antebellum on background vocals, and Rucker shares their pop-friendly sensibility on cuts like the title tune and the summer-ready “Radio.” Elsewhere, Rucker—only the third black artist to top the country charts, after Ray Charles and Charley Pride—shows his soulful side with gospel (“Take Me Home”) and R&B (“Leavin’ the Light On”). But the highlight is “Love Without You,” an aching ballad featuring Sheryl Crow, another pop-rocker who’s looking to pull a Darius with a country crossover.


Laura Mvula

Sing to the Moon |


“Sing to the moon and the stars will shine/ Over you, heaven’s gonna turn the tide,” croons Laura Mvula on the title track of her debut album, which is so magical it may leave you feeling as if you’re floating somewhere up in the galaxy. The classically trained singer-songwriter, who plays everything from piano to tubular bells here, is the latest in a wave of British soul-pop sirens vying to be the next Adele. And with her enchanting, lushly arranged potion of neo-soul, orchestral pop and torchy jazz—plus a lovely lilt perhaps owing to her Caribbean roots—she’s the most likely to keep you spellbound.