Various artists, "Nina Revisited … A Tribute to Nina Simone" (Sony)
This album is the companion piece to the Netflix documentary "What Happened, Ms. Simone?" about her life in the context of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. It deserves attention. First, it recasts songs written and covered by Simone by contemporary acts such as Usher and Mary J. Blige. A superb example is Jazmine Sullivan's take on Randy Newman's "Baltimore," which was part of Simone's repertoire. Second, this album was executive-produced and features five songs by Lauryn Hill, who hasn't released a studio album in 17 years. But she's clearly energized here. She raps over Simone's "I've Got Life" and turns chanteuse on "Ne Me Quitte Pas." Her dramatic reading of "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair" is a highlight, along with Alice Smith's hypnotic "I Put a Spell on You" and the lone track by Simone herself, "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free."
Dan Deluca, Philadelphia Inquirer
The video for Echosmith's lovestruck piano ballad "Bright" is in artful black and white, featuring a seated Lindsey Stirling on violin. tinyurl.com/nsc9cfu