The best new music of the week: Tori Kelly, Cody Simpson and more

By Nicholas Jennings

As music columnist for, each week I’ll bring you my selections for the best and most notable new music, albums you’re going to want to add to your collection plus a five-song playlist to try out. Happy listening!

Scroll down for playlist…


Tori KellyUnbreakable Smile
She started off as a YouTube sensation, delivering stunning covers of Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Frank Ocean. Now the 22-year-old California native is poised to become the Next Big Thing. Kelly’s debut album is packed with thrilling vocal dynamics and dazzling pop hooks. The horn-laden “Nobody Love” is already a massive hit and the bouncy “California Lovers,” featuring LL Cool J, is perfectly suited to summer parties. Kelly also shows off her more tender side on “I Was Made for Loving You,” her acoustic duet with Ed Sheeran.

Cody SimpsonFree
Teen pop idols eventually grow up and try their hands at more mature musical expression. The debut album from Australia’s Simpson on his own label is a step in the right direction. Eschewing a high-gloss production style in favor of a rootsier sound, he channels Jack Johnson on reggae-tinged numbers like “Flower” and “Thotful,” the former a sweet love song and the latter a sunny but sarcastic tune about a gold-digging lady. Inspired by John Mayer, Simpson peels off more blues-oriented licks on the laid-back “New Problems.”


Kacey MusgravesPageant Material
Sassy doesn’t begin to describe this Nashville upstart, whose second album continues to shake up the country establishment with whipsmart songs like “Biscuits,” “Family is Family” and the straight-shootin’ “Good Ol’ Boys Club.”

Maestro Fresh WesCompositions Vol. 1
Mr. “Let Your Backbone Slide,” now a successful actor and author, returns with a new album and tracks like “This is My Universe,” which the hip-hop pioneer will be performing at the Pan-Am Games.

Various artistsDylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats
This compilation features hits of the 1960s and ’70s, including Dylan’s “If Not for You,” George Harrison’s “Behind That Locked Door” and Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans,” all of which features top Nashville session players.


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