Alee – Bad Habit (Wax Records)

Close Talker – Lens (Nevado)

Lens most frequently focuses on love and connection frustrated by the walls people place around themselves, whether Quiring reflects on forbidden romance (the churning “All Of Us”), slyly punctures pretensions (“Okay Hollywood”) or looks back on an inherently fleeting relationship (the six-minute album-ender “Seasonal Friends”). Close Talker’s members are clearly fascinated with the way people push each other away, but their music never stops inviting you further and further in. (NPR) +First Listen

Fred Penner – Hear the Music (Linus)

Matt and Sam’s Brother – My Brain Hurts a Lot (Light Organ Records)

Overcoats – Young (Arts & Crafts)

It’s thrilling to know that one of the best albums of 2017 is made by two of the best friends you’ll ever witness on a stage. Overcoats’ Young is a record driven by ambition and passion, not craft. That’s not to say Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell aren’t terrifically talented singers and songwriters: What sets them apart is that I believe them. That the emotion in their harmonies and the space they give each other is filled with compassion. I believe their songs of loneliness and doubt. (NPR) +First Listen

Ron Sexsmith – The Last Rider (Warner)

After 12 studio albums, Canadian artist Ron Sexsmith has earned a reputation as a solid pop songwriter. He pens songs that are smart without being smarmy, clever without being cynical, and earnest without being shallow. No wonder his fans include musicians such as Paul McCartney and Elton John, individuals whose works share similar traits.(Pop Matters)

Stewart Legere – Quiet The Station (Independent)

Quiet the Station’s through line is story, and Legere — an award-winning writer/theatre actor, member of Zuppa Theatre and Heavy Blinkers — is filled with it. This is a confessional that could easily be staged, with quippy asides — “I am a crown of thorns/ I have been called that before” on “Wishes in Wells” — and knowing tones — the conspiratorial “Mmmhmm” on “Sabotage” — to bring you along. But the best thing this album brings us is Legere’s voice: a powerful range that would find a home on any folk story, ballad, R&B slow jam or musical — and we’ll follow that train wherever he decides to take it. (CBC Music) +First Play

Tara Beier – California 1970 (Red Raven Records)