Pieta Brown Mercury

Pieta Brown's newest album, Mercury, comes to the market loaded with a slew of adjectives starting with m to describe it: mesmerizing, mystical (it was inspired by a dream, after all) and, yes, mercurial. This isn't surprising, considering the Alabama-to-Iowa transplant was able to recruit a veritable roll call of Nashville talent to record the album live in three days (in a barn outside of Nashville, of course). Bo Ramsey (who's worked with Lucinda Williams and Greg Brown) produced and the resulting sound is repeatedly and undeniably reminiscent of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant's modern day masterpiece, Raising Sand. Brown's voice is clear as a bell and her band are made of veteran titans. Her songs range from the pristine balladry of "How Much of my Love" to the Stevie Nicks-ian gypsy blues of "Butterfly Blues" to the fiercely confident "I'm Gone." It comes as no surprise then, that Mercury is not just a beautiful album, but an essential one. (Red House)