Jelly Roll’s Anthem of Perseverance, and 9 More New Songs


The title of “I Am Not Okay” — a song Jelly Roll unveiled last month on “The Voice” — only tells half the story. It’s the kind of bruised, long-suffering, self-doubting, painfully open and high-drama testimonial that has turned Jelly Roll into a country star. He sings about sleepless nights and “voices in my head,” with production that rises from acoustic picking into stolid Southern rock behind his grainy voice. But soon Jelly Roll invokes a community — “I know I can’t be the only one who’s holding on for dear life” — and the promise of salvation: “The pain’ll wash away in a holy water tide.” Whether it’s in this life or beyond it, he declares, “It’s not OK, but we’re all gonna be all right.” It’s an arena-scale homily.

NxWorries — the partnership of the producer Knxwledge and the rapper and singer Anderson .Paak — ponders the deeply mixed emotions of enjoying success while knowing how hard former peers are still striving. “When you walk on by, you’ve got shades to hide your eyes,” the chorus chides. The track is a relaxed, quiet-storm groove with tickling lead-guitar lines, but it provides contrast, not comfort. “No one has a clue what we had to do to survive,” Anderson .Paak raps, and adds, “When they ask me how I’m doing, I feel guilty inside.” Earl Sweatshirt admits he’s “lived too many lives removed from the strife.” But before the song ends, Rae Khalil sings for those left behind: “I feel like ain’t nobody caring/Everybody’s scared,” she laments.

With her low, smoky voice and her coziness with synthesizers, Zsela has learned quite a bit from Joan Armatrading. “Not Your Angel,” from her new album “Big for You,” is a love song that starts with tentative, stop-start arpeggios and negative declarations — “I’m not your perfect/I’m not your fantasy” — and soon reveals its romantic aspirations: “Would you judge me if I can’t wait to be?” As the track unfolds, diffidence gives way to eager longing and the music opens up: Pinpoint syncopations are joined by cushiony chords, and short, hopping vocal lines expand into melodies.

“Boys are too easy,” Tanner Adell taunts in a song that fuses country with electronic dance music. It starts with an old-timey fiddle and mentions sweet tea, fishing and the proverbial “first rodeo.” But the beat is a kick-drum thud and the production stacks Adell’s voice into a banshee chorus, then pitch-shifts it at whim, a long way from a hoedown. PARELES

With brightly chiming Byrds guitars and comradely Beach Boys harmonies, the Decemberists visit a graveyard and seriously consider whether death would be a relief in “Burial Ground,” from their new album, “As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again.” Colin Meloy sings, “This world’s all wrong/So let’s go where we belong.” Morbidity rarely sounds so jolly.

Hello Mary, a three-woman New York City band, whipsaws through a raucous embrace of uncertainty in “0%.” It peaks with the drummer and singer Stella Wave screaming, “I don’t know! I don’t know!” But within less than three minutes the track also jumps amid spindly indie-rock guitar chords, a bruising one-note bass riff and an unexpected dip into folky picking joined by a plinking vibraphone — all while making a waltz sound feral.

Hermanos Gutiérrez — the guitar-playing brothers Estevan and Alejandro Gutiérrez, rooted in Ecuador but based in Switzerland— set out to merge rockabilly reverb and undercurrents of flamenco. Their revivalism-twisting producer, Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys, eases in a beat on their new album, “Sonido Cósmicos” (Cosmic Sound). The Gutiérrez brothers are fond of minor keys and subdued rhythms, and “Sonido Cósmico” is a waltz with a pensive melody sustained over perpetual-motion picking. It’s unhurried, atmospheric, a little melancholy and more than ready for a soundtrack sync.

It’s hard to tell which Khalid cherishes more: the woman who’s a thousand miles away but “still in my heart,” or smoking weed. “Adore U,” a glacial ballad with some ratchety trap percussion deep in the mix, is lavish in its praise and even more lavish in its vocal harmonies. The verses pour out how much he longs for her; the chorus vows that when they reunite, “We should just smoke, we should get high.” And the vocals just multiply.

Slic — a Brooklyn-based electronic songwriter who was born in Venezuela — conjures a mercurial, sensual minimalism in “Weeeeu.” In a wispy but earnest deadpan voice, processed through assorted filters, Slic sings about a relationship conflict — “Wish that you could see you’re on the same side/You could feel right, better take off the armor” — while insisting that reconciliation is possible, with the refrain, “We could make each other feel good.” The track uses terse, mutating little synthesizer beats and riffs, stripped down but also fraught with inner tension and antsy momentum.

The English saxophonist Nubya Garcia and her quartet start “The Seer” at full tilt, with splashy modal chords and glissandos from Joe Armon-Jones on piano and hyperactive drumming from Sam Jones. Garcia joins the brawny, big-toned tradition of tenor saxophonists like John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, spelling out her melodies in broad, decisive phrases. Near the end, she suddenly steers the group into a bluesy, more relaxed postscript over Daniel Casimir’s walking bass line, perhaps to ease back before another track. The full album, “Odyssey,” is due in September.



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