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A Star Is Born begins with Bradley Cooper, as successful country-rock singer Jackson Maine, doing his uninspired but high-octane brand of guitar work in front of a screaming audience of fans. When he's done, drunk and exhausted, he pours himself into a big black SUV, now alone with his nearly empty bottle, his flushed face, and his lungs that sound like they're filled with ash. He is in rough shape.

We were recently reminded of the enduring and powerful musical legacy of the Muscle Shoals sound by a new collection, Muscle Shoals: Small Town, Big Sound.

Aaron Lee Tasjan has a way with words and on his latest album, Karma For Cheap, he walks a fine line between timelessness and a record very much of this moment. For instance, one of his new songs is called "The Truth Is So Hard To Believe." It's easy to think about post-truths and fake news with a title like that as a chorus, but to Tasjan, the song is about something a little more personal.

The staccato piano hits like concentrated bursts of firework, ambient tones stretching out the drama with dialogue: "There are moments in a rock star's life that define who he is. Where there is darkness, there is no you." Yup, it's a trailer for music biopic, all right, but cut with scenes of surreal fantasy. Enter: Rocketman.

If last week felt a little more... exhausting than usual, you're not alone. And if you're already finding yourself in need of a palliative before lunchtime on a Monday, well, you've come to the right place.

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