Whatever Happened to the Times
Label: XL Recordings
For producer Richard Russell, The Bravest Man in the Universe follows Gil Scott-Heron's I'm New Here, another duet with a '70s black music icon. But while the late Scott-Heron met Russell while in jail on drug charges, resulting in an unpleasantly bleak affair, Womack made this album after 2010's "Stylo," his hit single with Damon Albarn and Gorillaz. Womack got clean years ago, and his optimism burns brightly on "Love Is Gonna Lift You Up" and "Deep River." Wisely, Russell and Albarn let rays of sun shine through their downtempo beats to match Womack's life-affirming comeback.