Erika Wennerstrom: Sweet Unknown and New Album releases reviewed

Having spent time at a mind-expanding Amazon retreat in 2015 she has re-emerged with this spellbinding solo set, tracing her journey from frustration to redemption.

On the opening tracks her smoky and powerful voice is set against huge blocks of guitar and bass to devastating effect.

The languid, string-laden Time and sparkling Like A Bird are among the gentler highlights.

Rick Parfitt: Over And Out 

Rating: 3/5 (earMUSIC)

Making his solo debut three months after his death on Christmas Eve, Status Quo guitarist Parfi tt suddenly reveals himself as a superb ballad singer.

Recorded last July, Without Her is a slow and beautiful gem full of love and regret – Parfi tt sounding a bit like Gerry Rafferty.

Elsewhere there’s enough 12 bar riffing to please the most devoted Quo fan even if the smoothed out, digital production doesn’t do it many favours.

So long, Rick.

Don McLean: Botanical Gardens

Rating: 3/5 (BMG)

There are no lyrics here as good as American Pie or Vincent, sadly.

But at 72, Don Mclean still exudes a winning intimacy and can certainly write a heartbreaking minor-key love song, as is proved by the stunning When July Comes and You’re All I Ever Had.

Meshell Ndgeocello: Ventriloquism

Rating: 3/5 (Naive Believe) One of America’s most distinctive and lush soul vocalists, Ndegeocello has selected a superb set of cover versions here.

She brings new freshness and delicacy to Prince’s Sometimes It Snows In April and re-imagines Tina Turner’s brilliant Private Dancer almost as a meditation.

It doesn’t all work – Lisa Lisa’s I Wonder If I Take You Home is pretty pointless, but certainly whets the appetite for an album of original material.