Hear the hottest fresh tunes, from Mavis Staples' potent protest album to Sharon Jones' posthumous LP

By Eric Renner BrownNolan FeeneyJosh Glicksman and Madison Vain
November 17, 2017 at 01:58 PM EST
Dimitri Hakke/Redferns/Getty Images; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images; Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Every Friday, artists drop anticipated albums, surprise singles, and hyped collaborations. As part of New Music Friday, EW’s music team chooses some of the essential new tunes. From Mavis Staples’ potent protest album to Sharon Jones’ posthumous LP, here are some of the week’s most noteworthy releases. Got Spotify? Stream all of EW’s picks by following our playlist (embedded below) for this week.

1. Mavis Staples, If All I Was Was Black

She’s pushing 80, but the soul icon remains a forceful presence. For her latest album, Staples yet again teamed with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy for a scuzzy set of country-fried blues, rock, and funk. But the real draw is her lyricism: Staples channels America’s restless energy into politically charged gems like “Build a Bridge” and “We Go High.” —Eric Renner Brown

2. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Soul of a Woman

The Brooklyn funk and soul label Daptone Records suffered two tragic losses in the last 12 months: Sharon Jones, last November, and Charles Bradley, in September. But the charismatic Jones had largely completed Soul of a Woman before her death and — on the eve of the one-year anniversary of her passing — Daptone has released the album. Aided by the Dap-Kings Horns (who’ve featured on tracks by Kesha and Sam Smith this year), the LP is a final collection of the energetic funk Jones championed. —E.R.B.

3. Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, The Rest of Our Lives

More than two decades into the country megastars’ marriage, fans finally get what they’ve longed for: A full record of duets. When EW chatted with the couple earlier this year, McGraw explained the delay. “The timing never seemed right,” he said. “We didn’t want to do an album just because we could.” Hill says they were extra particular about what cuts made the final product because, she claims, “we’re only doing it once!” For more, revisit EW’s interview with McGraw and Hill. —Madison Vain

4. Morrissey, Low in High School

The golden-voiced Brit reliably churns out another album of cinematic, topical alt-rock. His latest record yet again encapsulates his dual loves of ornate instrumentation and paranoiac soothsaying about topics including government surveillance and the police state. —E.R.B.

5. Tove Lo, BLUE LIPS

The sequel to last year’s Lady Wood opus continues her story of chasing all kinds of rushes — through sex, drugs, or performing — with two chapters: “Light Beams,” about the second wind of a high, and “Pitch Black,” about the comedown. Still, the Swedish singer has some tricks up her sleeve: The LP features what she calls her first real ballad, while she experiments with grunge on the addicting highlight, “Bitches.” For more, check out EW’s new interview with Tove Lo. —Nolan Feeney

6. Jaden Smith, SYRE

Remember when Jaden Smith showed up in Kid Cudi’s “Surfin” music video? Or contributed multiple features to Childish Gambino’s STN MTN / Kauai? How about when he made a fashion statement at Kimye’s wedding by wearing an all-white Batman suit? Well, on SYRE, his 17-track debut, Smith leans into all of his influences — and it’s wonderful. The album bounces from one great vibe to the next, from easygoing flows to lyrical flexes to straight-up rock anthems. His collaboration with A$AP Rocky on “Breakfast” is enjoyably bouncy — think Tyler the Creator’s “Yonkers” — and the song’s last line asks, “So, you think you can save rap music?” Singlehandedly that may be a stretch, but Smith’s varied abilities indicate some serious potential for the 19-year-old. —Josh Glicksman

7. Talib Kweli, Radio Silence

The prolific rapper’s new album — his second project of 2017, after a collaborative EP with Styles P — contains knotty verses, breezy beats, and plenty of star power: Rick Ross, BJ the Chicago Kid, Waka Flocka Flame, and even indie-rock singer Amber Coffman stop by. And Radio Silence‘s best moment comes on “Traveling Light,” where the MC reunites Anderson .Paak and Kaytranada for another euphoric collaboration. —E.R.B.

8. Steve Aoki & Lauren Jauregui, “All Night”

In a year when Fifth Harmony had plenty keeping them busy — they released their third album and toured internationally — Lauren Jauregui still found time for a handful of collaborations with the likes of Halsey and Ty Dolla $ign. Her latest solo venture unites her with Steve Aoki for a potent EDM banger. —N.F.

9. T-Pain, Oblivion

“It’s a mixture of classic T-Pain and new, unheard T-Pain,” the crooner told EW earlier this year of his first project since 2011’s Revolver. “I don’t think anybody’s heard this T-Pain yet.” The album — which, at 62 minutes, is a real statement — features outstanding collaborators such as Ty Dolla $ign, Ne-Yo, and Wale. —E.R.B.

10. Brandi Carlile, “The Joke”

America’s favorite folk rocker returned this week with a searing power ballad and news of a brand new album produced by Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings. Set to appear on By The Way, I Forgive You, due February 16, lead single “The Joke” showcases some of Carlile’s finest lyricism and singing yet. Written for children born into this trying time, Carlile urges triumph over division. With singing like this, they just might. —M.V.

11. S. Carey, “Fool’s Gold”

The multi-instrumentalist Sean Carey collaborated for years with Justin Vernon in Bon Iver, and Carey’s serene body of folk-rock has provided a fascinating counterpoint to Vernon’s continued electronic excursions: What if Vernon had stuck to the low-key strumming of his 2007 debut For Emma, Forever Ago? “Fool’s Gold,” the lead single off Carey’s forthcoming LP Hundred Acres, is another spare gem; in our chaotic, hyper-connected world, it’s arresting in its tranquility. —E.R.B.

Also out:

  • Sia’s album of original Christmas music, Everyday Is Christmas, created with superproducer Greg Kurstin
  • “All We Can Do,” the Juanes-featuring, Skrillex-aided single from Justin Bieber collaborator Poo Bear
  • A deluxe edition of Tame Impala’s brilliant 2015 LP Currents, including unreleased tracks from electro-psych wizard Kevin Parker
  • “Meadow,” the first Stone Temple Pilots song featuring their new singer Jeff Gutt
  • I Fall In Love Too Easily, a collection of down-tempo jazz standards form American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee
  • CyHi The Prynce’s long-gestating No Dope on Sundays, with a stacked guest list that features Kanye West, Pusha T, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, ScHoolboy Q, and Estelle
  • Christmas Queens 3, the latest installment of holiday music from winners of RuPaul’s Drag Race including Sharon Needles, Jinkx Monsoon, Alaska, and Bob the Drag Queen
  • Pop duo Aly & AJ’s first release in a decade, the Ten Years EP
  • A 23-minute series of spacey remixes of NxWorries’ Yes Lawd!, the stellar 2016 collaboration between Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge
  • (it was) because i was in love, the deluxe edition — rounded out with two fresh bonus tracks — of indie-rock singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten’s acclaimed debut because i was in love

Listen to a playlist of the tracks from this week’s New Music Friday above.