50 Best Albums of 2018 So Far

Including Janelle Monáe, Cardi B, Kacey Musgraves, the 'Black Panther' soundtrack and more

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Neko Case, Hell-On

Neko Case, Hell-On

Case's clarion pipes remain the calling card, but on her eighth studio LP, between lyrics and vocal arrangements, they've never channeled more imagination or sense of purpose. A set of rangy folk-rock, Hell-On opens pondering the nature of God ("an unspecified tide ... a lusty tire fire") and hits its stride dissecting love, most dazzlingly on "Winnie" ("Joy ran through us like welders flux/We just wanted to be music!"). Beth Ditto, k.d. lang, Eric Bachmann, Laura Veirs and others reinforce the key point: No instrument has more power than the unadorned human voice. W.H.

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