What We Lost, by Ben Bedford

Ben Bedford creates cinematic folk music with the wisdom and depth of someone twice his age. “John the Baptist” is a rousing song despite its minor key, thanks to its carousel of organ, slide guitar and backbeat drums (“The devil skulks ’round every bend / And a broken soul you cannot mend / Not till you raise repentant hands”).

Kindred Spirits, by Carrie Newcomer

This collection draws on Carrie New­comer’s dozen releases on Rounder, adding two new tracks that continue in her tradition of exploring spiritual dimensions in everyday life. Newcomer’s gentle alto welcomes the listener with more warmth than a cappuccino.

Feeling Mortal, by Kris Kristofferson

It’s easy to write Kris Kristofferson off as another country songwriter trawling the shallows of whiskey, diesels and cornpone imagery. But that’s a myopic read of the Rhodes scholar, William Blake devotee, Golden Gloves boxer and helicopter pilot.

The Beautiful Old, by various artists

This project by producers Paul Mar­steller and Gabriel Rhodes is an ad­mirable tribute to pre–World War I popular music. Each singer is accompanied only by instruments from the song’s period. Richard Thomson’s sly baritone curls around “The Band Played On” like a handlebar mustache, while Graham Parker tackles “The Flying Trapeze” with saloon-and-sarsaparilla panache.