Plant and Krauss Cover a Led Zeppelin Classic, and 12 More New Songs


No one is more entitled to cover Led Zeppelin than its singer, Robert Plant. His close-harmony duo with the singer and fiddler Alison Krauss excels at making songs sound far older than they are, and even in 1971, “When the Levee Breaks” harked back to a vintage blues by Memphis Minnie. This live recording is stark, resonant and rumbling, with a fiddle solo by Stuart Duncan that looks toward both Ireland and Morocco and a cranked-up guitar stomp that builds toward — alas! — a frustrating fade-out. JON PARELES

The spoiler is in the title of “Truck on Fire,” a swinging country revenge song from Carly Pearce’s new album, “Hummingbird.” Her voice seethes as she recalls “the way that you laughed it off when I was catching on/Said it was in my head,” and there’s a dark glee (and a product placement) while she watches the “flames rolling off of your Goodyear tires.” PARELES

It’s looking more likely than ever to be the summer of Sabrina Carpenter, with this week’s announcement of an upcoming album “Short n’ Sweet” (out Aug. 23) and the release of a feathery new single. Rippling synthesizers, crisp percussion and Carpenter’s layered vocals give the track (produced by Jack Antonoff, who was also one of its writers) a unique feel, like a yacht-rock tune crossed with a country ballad. “Please, please, please don’t prove ’em right,” she implores a bad-boy beau (played in the music video by her actual boyfriend, the Oscar-nominated actor Barry Keoghan), though her pathos quickly gives way to gentle humor: “Don’t bring me to tears when I just did my makeup so nice.” Like her current smash “Espresso,” “Please Please Please” shows Carpenter’s precise knack for comically enunciated lines, like her swoop down from her fluttery, girlish register to grumble an unprintable if hilariously pronounced threat. But this less-caffeinated effort also allows Carpenter to show off another side of herself, smartly timed to suggest she’s not just a one-hit wonder but a pop star interested in playing the long game. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Sophie Allison, the songwriter who records as Soccer Mommy, mourns an irrevocable separation in “Lost.” It may be her mother, her grandmother or even a more distant ancestor: “I’ve got her name, I’ve got her face,” she sings, over a strummed acoustic guitar, gradually joined by a band and a string arrangement. She doesn’t forgive herself as she faces regrets and finality. PARELES

Halsey has recently revealed continuing medical struggles with lupus and lymphoproliferative disorder. In “The End,” a fingerpicked acoustic guitar accompanies lyrics about visits to doctors and chances at love: “If you knew it was the end of the world, would you like to stay awhile?” Halsey sings, “Maybe we could build an ark.” Even amid infirmity, craft is paramount. PARELES

In snaking melodies atop shimmering club beats, Charli XCX pivots between cool-girl braggadocio and raw confessions of insecurity on her new album, “Brat.” “It’s so confusing sometimes to be a girl,” she sings on the chorus of one of its most vulnerable songs, which explores her ambivalent relationship with a certain unnamed pop star doppelgänger. “People say we’re alike, they say we’ve got the same hair/We talk about making music but I don’t know if it’s honest.” In an era of empowerment pop and girl’s girls, Charli’s unabashedly messy, run-on candor is especially refreshing. ZOLADZ

“What Happened to the Heart?,” the new album by the Norwegian songwriter Aurora, seeks to reconcile and reintegrate body, mind, spirit and planet. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of a pop banger. Tucked in at track 12 is “Do You Feel?,” an updated disco groove carrying a simple refrain — “You can give up on me/Never give up on love” — while a flutelike hook hints at a folk tune, percussion and backup vocals percolate across stereo channels and the verse invokes anatomy and elemental forces. PARELES

Floating Points — the English producer and D.J. Sam Shepherd — puts a blippy repeating note through all sorts of timbral and rhythmic transformations in “Del Oro.” It’s a pulse, an offbeat, a steel drum, a vocal syllable, a background, a foreground, an insistent jab; every so often it nearly expands into a melody. Eventually it disappears under a bass line, while nervous breath sounds suggest a frantic search. PARELES

The duo Clothing — Aakaash Israni from Dawn of Midi and Ben Sterling from Cookies and Mobius Band — orchestrates an electronic trust fall in “Still Point.” Jumpy, distorted stereo guitar lines give way to L’Rain singing that “It’s a long way down to the bottom now.” But there’s no worry; her luxuriant vocal harmonies confidently defy gravity, proclaiming that “it’s just you and me in the clouds.” PARELES

In a seven-minute studio extravaganza, the English songwriter Raye grapples with depression, anxiety, alcohol, drugs, loneliness, social media pressures, suicidal thoughts, misinformation and more, begging, “Let there be light.” She elaborates on her troubles amid orchestral pomp, trip-hop beats and choral interludes. But as Raye looks beyond herself — to “all those overworked and underpaid” — the music switches to brassy, big-band blues while her voice turns jazzy, summoning more light (and better pay) for all. PARELES

Pop’s meta-narratives are now upfront. “Burning,” the latest single by the Nigerian songwriter Tems — from her new album, “Born in the Wild” — already reflects on her career ambitions. “Plenty fire in my eyes/just the way I like to be,” she sings, over a cyclical four-chord vamp. It’s calculated and quantized; maybe it’s also honest. PARELES

Two stubbornly repeating chords, with no exit, map out the emotional impasse Lottie Pendlebury sings about in “Words Fell Out” from “Below the Waste,” the new album by the London band Goat Girl. “Did some things I shouldn’t have that I now regret/Guess you’ll always find wrong in retrospect,” she observes, while she recalls troubled conversations that couldn’t yield a true connection. The music trudges along with a recurring guitar lick, but a quietly hovering, slowly descending synthesizer line sums up the mood. PARELES

Born when the 1990s began, Moses Sumney is unlikely to remember 1993, a year he specifies in “Vintage.” But pop has a stronger sonic memory. He plugs in old drum machines and synthesizers for a slowly swaying track that wishes he could rev up a time machine, while he deploys 1990s-style keyboards and voices. It’s a technical exercise that turns passionate as he insists, “I want that old thing back, baby.” PARELES



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