The Star-Telegram arts writers spotlight what's rocking their world this week.
1 SOJA, Strength to Survive: You don't have to play hacky sack or have long surfer dreads to appreciate SOJA -- though it couldn't hurt. Produced by John Alagia (Dave Matthews Band, O.A.R., John Mayer), SOJA's fourth release (and first for Matthews' label) is an Americanized, college-radio brand of classic reggae in the vein of Matisyahu and John Brown's Body. Strength may not be the most original album out there, and there are a couple of tracks that are more Matthews than Marley, but with deep-groove songs like the title track and Mentality, it's often irresistible.
-- Cary Darling
2 Norah Jones, Little Broken Hearts: It has been 10 years since the Grapevine-reared singer's debut album, Come Away With Me, and Jones has been drifting away from the jazz-pop mold ever since. But never so much as with her latest CD. Produced by Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, it's a bitter breakup album that features Jones' almost sleepy-sounding voice and spare backing, heavy on the bass, drums and strummed guitars. But when you encounter the words -- whether it's in the sarcasm of the deceptively chipper-sounding hit Happy Pills, the insinuating "You don't have to tell the truth/'cause if you do, I'll tell it, too" in Say Goodbye or the chilling, creepy beauty of Miriam (and, oh, poor Miriam) -- Jones makes it clear that she may be mellow, but she's not to be messed with.
-- Robert Philpot
3 Art historians all atwitter : In May, the Getty Research Institute launched the Getty Research Portal, an art-specific search engine. Instead of scanning everything art-related, the Getty is consolidating what has already been digitized. Which makes for a large database of material, as eight libraries -- including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Institute of Art History in Paris, the University of Malaga in Spain and Heidelberg University in Germany -- have contributed. The full texts can be downloaded for free. Most materials published after 1923 in the U.S. or 1909 in other countries are governed by copyright restrictions, but early works, especially American and European, are there in their entirety.
-- Gaile Robinson