Nora Jane Struthers, 'Champion'
Over the past several years, few roots-leaning songwriters have more deftly chronicled the euphoric highs and devastating lows of romance than Nora Jane Struthers. After documenting the dizzying bliss of falling headfirst in love on 2015's Awake, Struthers takes on the trials and triumphs of steady partnership on the equally arresting Champion. Recorded with her longtime backing band the Party Line, who provide a gentle mix of alt-country, soulful folk, alt-rock, and banjo-pop, originals like "Each Season," "Champion," "Words" and "Just a House" display Struthers' greatest strength as a songwriter: her ability to take stock of deep-seated contentment while insisting on interrogating the dark doubts that so often follow. J.B.