Bruce Hornsby, with his cerebral piano style, and Ricky Skaggs, all furious picking, aren't an obvious match. But as it turns out, they complement each other so well on their new CD Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby. Best is their version of Hornsby's "Mandolin Rain" on which Skaggs displays his virtuosity on the titular instrument while Hornsby provides evocative accompaniment.
Mika, a 23-year-old singer-songwriter who was born in Beirut and is based in London, breathes refreshing life into pop music on his animated debut, Life in Cartoon Motion. The CD kicks off with the poperatic pomp of his glorious U.K. hit "Grace Kelly", on which Mika flaunts his self-taught skills on the keys.
Sharing his name with the legendary Doors frontman, James Morrison has already made his mark in his native Britain. Undiscovered, his debut CD hits the U.S. with a brand of bluesy pop that paints him as the British answer to John Mayer. That may not make him the most original bloke on the block, but when the tunes are this strong and the voice is this soulful, it hardly matters. Best is the R&B-dipped single "You Give Me Something" on which Morrison and his richly textured pipes really give us Yanks something to talk about.