On the cover of her new album, "The Righteous Ones," Toshi Reagon poses with an acoustic guitar, that talisman of the folk singer. Reagon is indeed a folk singer, but that's not all she is: Her style has deep roots in gospel, and on this album she also ventures into blues, funk, country and even punk. Yet the singer's eclecticism never seems forced; because she understands where these styles originated, she knows how to put them back together.
Reagon should know a few things about the roots of African- American music. She's the daughter of Bernice Johnson Reagon, whose Sweet Honey in the Rock provides the gospel chorus that swells the spirit of the opening track, "Real Love." In spirit, Reagon is not really a solo act. The voices that join hers for the refrains of songs like "Happy and Satisfied" and "Drive It Home" are the key to both her sound and sensibility. Even on the song she performs unaccompanied, "Mean Ol World," Reagon multitracked her voices into a one-woman gospel choir.
Appearing Tuesday at IOTA. To hear a free Sound Bite from Toshi Reagon, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8127. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)