Chicago singer-songwriter Al Rose’s eighth album, Again the Beginner, is an urgent set of 13 good and true songs which features perhaps the loveliest melodies, catchiest hooks, and nerviest set of lyrics he’s yet composed. It’s a heartening and bracing experience; one man’s attempt to come to terms with modern times and that broken feeling everybody’s got in the pit of their stomach.

The stakes couldn’t be higher: this is your life; our time is running short, and every personal crisis seems tied to an accumulating sense of public dread. After all, a lot has happened since Rose dropped his last album, 2016’s Spin Spin Dizzy: years of authoritarian encroachment, COVID-19, and unstinting attacks on democracy at home and abroad.