ROBERT CRAY
TIME WILL TELL (Sanctuary Records)

Cray continues to push the envelope of his craft, throwing in a little trumpet and sax to the funky “Your Pal,” and bringing in some strings on “Times Makes Two” and “Up in the Sky,” where the Georgia native performs his hot notes on an electric sitar.

GEORGE STRAIT
HONKYTONVILLE (MCA Nashville)

With 50 No. 1 country singles, it’s hard to deny the power of this rural music legend. Sticking to the formula that’s roped Strait 20-plus years of hits, his 21st studio album goes well beyond the city limits and everyday heartache.

MICHAEL McDONALD
MICHAEL McDONALD MOTOWN (Motown)

Paying tribute where it’s due, the former Doobie Brothers piano man/singer gives it his all on songs such as Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and Marvin Gaye’s “Distant Lover” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”
- JAMES E. MAYFIELD