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In an age of iTunes downloads and “American Idol” crooners, this double CD, complete with an 80-page booklet, is a wonder. Merchant (former lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs) comes back from a seven-year maternity leave to offer 26 songs based on poems ranging from Mother Goose to e.e. cummings. Each song is set to a different musical style, including Irish folk, Native American chant, bluegrass, R&B, jazz, klezmer, and orchestral music. In collaboration with more than 100 first-rate musicians (Wynton Marsalis on jazz trumpet, for example), Merchant has produced an album for adults with an eclectic taste in music who are kids at heart. (Nonesuch)

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