ROBERT PLANT/ALISON KRAUSS, RAISING SAND (Rounder) Plant, far removed from his Led Zeppelin banshee days, pulls angelic bluegrass singer Krauss over to the dark side on this album of alluring country and blues covers. Quiet moments offer rambling steel guitars and pretty banjo (yes, banjo), but even better are the ramshackle rug-cutters.
DOWNLOAD NOW: "Gone Gone Gone"
Soul on fire:
ALICIA KEYS, AS I AM (J Records)Keys has never sounded as vulnerable as she does on these anthems to womanhood and redemptive love. Against raw drumbeats and gospel-style organ, her towering voice sounds like Janis trying to sing like Aretha, or vice versa.
DOWNLOAD NOW:"Wreckless Love"
JOSé GONZáLEZ, IN OUR NATURE (Mute) Never mind Barry White - cue up this dreamy Swede when it's time to close the deal. González, a folkie but not a hippie, requires only a pair of nylon-string guitars and his firelit vocals to get you in the mood. What's so sexy? You hear each intimate tap of González's calloused fingers, and his reedy whisper feels like hot breath on your neck.
DOWNLOAD NOW: "How Low"
Retro club pop:
CASSIUS, 15 AGAIN (Astralwerks) Turn your living room into a discotheque! This pair of Parisian producers hits the dance floor with Purple Rain - era scratchy guitars, beat-box R&B, and suave lyrics that add up to hopelessly infectious, deliciously cheesy pop music.
DOWNLOAD NOW: "Toop Toop"