David Wilcox sings songs that matter, songs with lyrical depth that show off his perceptive powers. He also sings with a baritone voice that’s smooth and warm and—though he’s rarely explicit about it—from the perspective of a songwriter on a Christian spiritual journey.

On his 18th album, Wilcox covers a wide swath of topical matter and musical textures. But Wilcox’s voice—often compared to James Taylor’s—and his acoustic guitar provide steady anchors. As Wilcox describes his objective in the liner notes, “This blossom has petals that go out in different, seemingly contradictory directions.”

Wilcox has planted something complex and beautiful with Blaze. It displays his gifts as a first-rate storyteller who marries arresting narratives with alluring melodies. The album also rocks out, as on opener “Oil Talking to You.” The song imagines a world beyond our dependence on crude. Yet it isn’t as apocalyptic as you might imagine: “They’ll be kitchens full / There will be parties loud / And dinner conversations with the neighbor crowd / There will be bright ideas on how to get things done.” Wilcox imagines a world where people unite to tackle a common problem; it’s a protest song of sorts but with a positive twist: