NPR Music's Ann Powers (right) interviews musicians (from left) Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Alynda Lee Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff, Sharon Jones and Meshell Ndegeocello at the EMP Pop Conference in Seattle. Brady Harvey hide caption

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Sturgill Simpson's second album, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, takes inspiration from both Ray Charles and research into near-death experiences. Crackerfarm/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Ben Watt's new album, Hendra, comes out April 29. Edward Bishop/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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First Listen

First Listen: Ben Watt, 'Hendra'

With his first solo album in 31 years, the former member of Everything But The Girl has returned to highly cultured, intimate songcraft.

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Beautiful Music Together: Joaquin Phoenix takes a walk on the beach with his girlfriend the Operating System in the Oscar-nominated film Her. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures hide caption

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St. Paul and the Broken Bones' new album, Half the City, comes out Feb. 18. David McClister/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Eric Church's new album, The Outsiders, comes out Feb. 11. John Peets/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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