Warning: Newcomer Nikka Costa has arrived on the scene like a hot, sex machine.
The core of her debut, Everybody's Got Their Something, blends modern dance rhythms into a sturdy R&B foundation that oozes sensuality. The result is an artist who stays true to her soul roots while remaining commercially accessible.
Jams like Hope It Felt Good finds Costa in full sex goddess mode, shouting the title hook with a sultry confidence. Utilizing harmonies that constantly swirl around Costa's primary vocal, even soft ballads like Nothing appear full while instrumentally
distant.
If Costa's latest single Like A Feather is any indication, her solid songs and clever arrangements will be enough to overpower fickle trends that could bury lesser talent.
Rating: B

Artist: Buddy Guy
CD: Sweet Tea
Label: BMG/Jive/Silvertone

Blues icon Buddy Guy is back with one of his most passionate releases in recent memory: Sweet Tea.
Guy exudes a fiery, swaggering presence that bathes tracks such as Baby Please Don't Go, She's Got The Devil In Her, and I Gotta Try You Girl with an incomparable spirit. The music's down-and-dirty style adds vigor to the basic blues arrangements, w
hile Guy sings and plays like a man possessed.
The only real subdued moment comes in the weary opener Done Got Old, a lament the bluesman disproves with each brilliantly played note.
In a small way, Sweet Tea's renewed sense of vitality makes Guy look like a man who after 50 years of music making is only getting started. At best, it's a comfort to know that not all of Guy's best work rests solely behind him.
Rating: B
Artist: Lucinda Williams
CD: Essence
Label: Lost Highway

Country music's indie rebel Lucinda Williams has returned with more of her descriptive alternative/country songs on her quality sixth effort, Essence.
Known for taking recording breaks of six to eight years between albums, contentment with her new label, Lost Highway, has brought her latest out in just under three. Instead of mimicking the production of her 1998 masterpiece, Car Wheels On A Gravel Road,
Essence is a stripped-down affair with music notables Jim Keltner and Jim Lauderdale lending their support.
Williams has mastered the art of expressing one's fragile vulnerability, heard on the inspired moments I Envy the Wind, Steal Your Love and Reason To Cry.
By turning personal introspection into picturesque songs, Essence adds depth to Williams' impressive body of work.
Rating: B+