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Erin Rae, 'Modern Woman'

Change can sound itself out in shouts or murmurs. Nashville singer-songwriter Erin Rae is a master of its subtle arts, the sunset gradations of her voice signaling progressive transformations within a person or among lovers and friends. Her new song, "Modern Woman," showcases how she finds ways to be both measured and bold as a writer. Dedicated to telling the stories of those who might otherwise remain in the background, Rae's accompanying video (directed by Joshua Shoemaker) features an array of Nashville musicians, artists and business owners who make Rae's assertion that a woman can be many things gorgeously tangible. "Modern Woman," the lead single from her forthcoming third album Lighten Up, offers a new sonic approach: country undertones remain, but the drums are bigger, and the production (by neo-psychedelicist Jonathan Wilson) more Southern California than Middle Tennessee. The sound suits this most intimate anthem, a call for redefinition (or, as the lyrics say, an acceptance of what's always been true) that makes its case poetically.

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Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.