Ann Powers Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.
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Jim Lauderdale's new album, I'm A Song, comes out July 1. Scott Simontacchi/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Scott Simontacchi/Courtesy of the artist

Willie Nelson's new album, Band of Brothers, comes out June 17. David McClister/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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David McClister/Courtesy of the artist

Jose James' new album, While You Were Sleeping, comes out June 10. Janette Beckman/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Janette Beckman/Courtesy of the artist

Meshell Ndegeocello's new album, Comet, Come to Me, comes out June 3. Jason Rodgers/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Jason Rodgers/Courtesy of the artist

Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires' new album, Dereconstructed, comes out May 27. Wes Frazer/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Wes Frazer/Courtesy of the artist

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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Brady Harvey

Sharon Jones, Mike McCready, Meshell Ndegocello And Alynda Lee Segarra On Stage

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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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Crackerfarm/Courtesy of the artist