Time has done wonders for Bobby Womack. The 68-year-old Cleveland native and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has never sounded so ingrained with the music as he does on The Bravest Man in the Universe, his first album of new material in almost 20 years. Producers Damon Albarn (who recruited Womack for the last couple of Gorillaz albums) and Richard Russell layer the old-school R&B foundations with stripped-down strings, percolating hip-hop beats, acoustic guitars, and ghostly piano fills. But the focus is on Womack's warm, worn voice, aged to a soulful rasp that gives songs like "Please Forgive My Heart" and the title tune the gravity and sense of history they call for. He even duets with Lana Del Rey on a song called "Dayglo Reflection." Brave indeed. — Michael Gallucci
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