Tori Whitley

Ella Yelich-O'Connor, known to the world as Lorde, is embracing a sunnier and more analog sound, full of plucked acoustic guitars and brushed snares. Since releasing her breakout single, "Royals," in 2013, she's made the most of hook-heavy pop songs constructed from a palette of overcast electronic sounds.

"In the past," she says, "I'd hear an acoustic guitar and I'd say 'Oh, here we go. It's about to get painfully authentic!' "

As a kid, Rebecca Sugar felt like they only liked the wrong things.

"I remember I was really interested in shows for boys," she says, "and I knew at a very young age that was incorrect. I have found little diary entries from my five-year-old self guiltily admitting that I loved SWAT Kats, and I had no interest in shows for little girls."

Picture this: It's sometime in the early 1990s, in rural Oklahoma. There's a little Baptist church – it's Sunday, and inside of the church everyone is wearing their nicest clothes. They listen to the sermon, until the pastor calls a kid — a little girl — up to the front, to lead everyone in a song: "Amazing Grace."

These are the memories that country music superstar Carrie Underwood pulls from for her new album, My Savior. It's her first release comprised solely of Christian songs, based on the hymnals she'd sing along to in her youth.

Katy Perry has had nine No. 1 songs since 2008, including "Teenage Dream," "California Gurls" and "Roar." She has this upbeat, candy-coated, not-quite-real human-with-real-human-problems persona. And then in 2017, she released an album called Witness that was supposed to show a more authentic Katy. Critics didn't love it; more importantly, a lot of her fans didn't either. Her response is her new record, Smile, which is out Aug. 28.

With less than 100 days until the 2020 presidential election, Ohio's 18 electoral votes are in play.

The state went for President Trump in 2016, and Ashtabula County is one reason why.

The Chicks — formerly known as the Dixie Chicks — is back with a new record called Gaslighter after 14 years. Why the long time gone? Martie Maguire, Emily Strayer and Natalie Maines say they wanted a break to raise their kids, among other things, but after a 2016 reunion tour, they felt the hunger again. Their new album is rooted in failed relationships, some good ones, anger and a lotta humor. Maguire says life experience never hurts writing.

The pandemic, a bad economy, police killings and a fight for racial equality: It's a lot of take in. For some, music has been a way to cope and try to make sense of it all and that is the premise behind the Morning Edition Song Project, in which we asked musicians to write and perform an original song about this moment.

Angelica Garcia says she sometimes feels like two people. To understand that sentiment, look at her first two albums. Her first release, 2016's Medicine for Birds, was a bluesy country record: She sang about the South, about Loretta Lynn, about her adopted home of Virginia. Her new album Cha Cha Palace, however, is all about her East Los Angeles upbringing and her Latinx identity.

After introducing herself to audiences in the early 2010s as a writer of upbeat and clever Americana, Caroline Rose is now firmly a pop singer. Rose first applied her songwriting talent to pop rock on 2018's Loner, and her newest release, Superstar (out March 6), is a synth-heavy concept album, telling the story of an unabashedly ambitious singer's rapid rise and unceremonious fall.

The Lumineers have taken their latest album, III, as an opportunity to shine a light on a topic that's close to many of the members' lives — addiction. III tells a story of addiction in three acts. As the album runs from one song to the next, it's a tale of one family facing the same problem. "It's the family secret and it's a taboo," Wes Schultz, the band's lead vocalist, says.

Drummer Jeremiah Fraites says addiction happens in cycles and should be considered that way.

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