Cass McCombs, Kelela, Prince Royce — Critic’s Notebook

Notable recordings from the world of pop music.

Cass McCombs

A few minutes into his vast new songbook, “Big Wheel and Others,” Cass McCombs imagines himself in the driver’s seat of a bulldozer, perhaps giving us a heads up. This will be his most dense and disparate album. Get out of the way or get buried by it.

Across 75 minutes of music, the nomadic singer-songwriter casually proves his fluency in folk, country and blues — styles he doesn’t seem to have studied so much as scraped up off the side of the road. As McCombs puts it on “Joe Murder,” a psychedelic jag roughly halfway through the program: “Not all who wander are lost.”

Kelela

R&B singers often double as time travelers — there are throwbacks (Adele, John Legend), futurists (Janelle Monae, Kelis) and those who can leap in both directions at once (Maxwell, Erykah Badu).

On her exciting debut mixtape, “Cut 4 Me,” this Los Angeles singer falls in the futurist camp, crooning over sleek, crystalline beats etched out by Kingdom, Jam City, Nguzunguzu and other producers connected to the British dance label Night Slugs and its American sibling imprint, Fade to Mind. With Kelela, their slippery, synthetic soundscapes have a sure-footed tour guide who sounds wondrously human.

Prince Royce

The Bronx native’s third album, “Soy el Mismo,” moves like a pendulum across the Caribbean, swinging from Dominican bachata to Jamaican reggae to the artificial oontz-oontz-oontz of so many Miami dance floors. But the 24-year-old bachata star’s voice never forfeits its pillowy softness. With “Already Missing You,” a duet with Selena Gomez, he proves he can croon the thumpiest of love songs with breezy sensuality.

Chris Richards has been the Post's pop music critic since 2009. He's recently written about Bjork's radical humanity, the spiritual endurance of Willie Nelson and the joys of heavy metal drumming.
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