Weekly US music releases: soul stylings from Usher and Erykah

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The Independent Culture

Among the record company releases on March 30, singer Usher releases an album on the pop end of the soul sound, while Erykah Badu defies genre with a jazzy version of soul. Also Joan Armatrading and Barenaked Ladies deliver new folk rock releases.

Usher, Raymond v. Raymond
With a string of hits, including the lead single, "Papers" from this album, multi-platinum Grammy-winning soul singer Usher releases his seventh album on LaFace Records. "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)" is currently number three on Billboard's R&B chart. The CD's title refers to the performer's full name, Usher Raymond IV, with songs speaking of juggling personal and professional lives. Usher was 16 when he got his first gold record, and in turn he's discovered teen singing sensation Justin Bieber. www.usherworld.com

Erykah Badu, New Amerykah, Part II: Return of the Ahkh
The queen of "neo soul" and multi-platinum Grammy Award-winner, Badu releases her fifth album on Universal/Motown with live instrumentation, including harps, strings, piano, and Theremin. Her material is emotional and her musical styling remains unique. Andre 3000, formerly of OutKast, is a guest performer on the record. www. erykahbadu.com/

Barenaked Ladies, All in Good Time
Canadian folk rockers deliver their 11th album and release the first single, "You Ran Away," among its collection of 14 tracks on its own imprint Raisin Records/EMI. Without co-vocalist Steve Page in the band now, the singing duties are shared by guitarist/vocalist Ed Robertson, keyboardist Kevin Hearn and bass player Jim Creeggan. The band heads out for North American tour dates, April 6 -June 5, to add more to its more than 14 million albums sold. www.barenakedladie s.com

  Joan Armatrading, This Charming Life
With her 19th album, the singer/songwriter and guitarist returns to a pop rock bent after the last recording of blues tunes won her the top spot on Billboard's blues chart, a first for a British woman. Also a first, she's produced her collection of 11-songs on this 429 Records release, leading with the title track. Currently she's touring Europe through May. www.joanarmatrading.com