Seela performs at “Track You Down” record release at Cactus Cafe on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2016. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman


Seela, “Track You Down.” Frequently seen on Austin stages as a backing vocalist for artists including Matt the Electrician and Jaimee Harris, Seela also has released several records of her own. Co-produced by Anthony da Costa and featuring appearances by renowned local instrumentalists Jeff Plankenhorn and Scrappy Jud Newcomb among others, “Track You Down” is an exquisite collection of acoustic-based folk-pop songcraft. “Awake to Remember Me” sets verses steeped in darkness to an uplifting tempo, with the singing and the spirit soaring in the chorus. Many of these songs deal with religious issues, though Seela approaches them with a personal touch rather than a heavy hand. The album-closing “At a Loss” beautifully pares the music down to its essentials for lyrics that dig deep into the heart. Here’s the leadoff track, “Blue Mountains”:


Mark McKinney, “World in Between.” On his fifth album since his 2006 debut, McKinney, whomoved to Austin from West Texas two decades ago, expands on the solid foundation he’s built in the Texas country community. Smooth singing with a slightly sandpapered edge drives mostly easygoing, danceable tunes, though he heads to a darker place on the record’s second single, “Bridge.” Here’s the video for the lead single, “Sunshine”:


Tje Austin, “I Belong to You” EP. American-Statesman writer Deborah Sengupta Stith observes that the new EP from the R&B singer and former “The Voice” contestant “is a rich and varied release. Lead track ‘Whisky’ blusters in with a brassy blast of classic soul. He dons his earnest singer-songwriter hat on the title track and his groovy disco shoes on the dance song ‘Higher.’ His golden voice, resonant with raw heart, is a unifying force on the seven-track release. An emotional fire burns throughout, and it explodes in the soaring requiem ‘Everyone Goes Away,’ a gut-punch of a closer that fearlessly grapples with the cruel impermanence of love and life. Playing Feb. 3 at Hyatt Regency.

READ MORE (with video): Free of cancer, free to create, Tje Austin releases new EP

Sharon Bourbonnais, “A Girl’s Gotta Play.” The leader of the band Tres Bourbonnais perhaps walks in the footsteps of longtime Austin favorite Marcia Ball, mixing swampy blues and rootsy jazz with her piano playing and sassy vocals front and center. Tight rhythms and occasional blasts of horns spice up Bourbonnais’ good-time groove on these 10 tracks. Release show Feb. 4 at El Mercado Backstage.

We Are Blood Bays, “Mexican Fiction.” Self-described as “lo-fi roots drunken circus cowboy music,” We Are Blood Bays twists country in a spaghetti-western direction on a dozen tracks. Bonus points for a smartly designed, literary-themed album cover. Release show Jan. 20 at Spider House Ballroom. Here’s the title track:


Matthew Squires, “Tambaleo.” The latest from the quirky indie-folk-psychedelic-rock singer-songwriter is thematically structured, with minute-long, mostly instrumental tracks titled “Drone One,” “Drone Two” and “Drone Three” marking the start, middle and end of the record.


JAN. 27: Leopold & His Fiction, “Darling Destroyer,” release show Jan. 25 at Stubb’s indoor. JAN. 27: Pollen Rx, “Sunbelt Emptiness,” release show Jan. 28 at Cheer Up Charlie’s. JAN. 27: Whitney Rose, “South Texas Suite” EP (Six Shooter), release show Jan. 26 at Continental Club. FEB. 3: Gurf Morlix, “The Soul & the Heal,” release show Feb. 4 at Strange Brew. FEB. 3: Daisy O’Connor, “Lightchasers,” release show Feb. 3 at Cactus Cafe. FEB. 3: Traveling Ones, “Meet Me There,” release show Feb. 3 at Stubb’s indoor. FEB. 3: Ty Richards, “Zillion,” release show Feb. 3 at Swan Dive. FEB. 10: Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, “Backlash” (Ingroove), in-store Feb. 10 at Waterloo Records. FEB. 10: Merles, “Hate to Say Goodbye,” release show Feb. 24 at White Horse. FEB. 10: Ulrich Ellison & Tribe. FEB. 10: Letting Up Despite Great Faults, “Alexander Devotion” EP (Shelflife), playing Feb. 16 at Barracuda. FEB. 10: Ali Holder, “Huntress Moon” EP, release show Feb. 10 at Cactus Cafe. FEB. 17: Curtis McMurtry, “The Hornet’s Nest.” FEB. 17: Molly Burch, “Please Be Mine,” release show Feb. 18 at Mohawk. FEB. 18: Later Days, “Lost in the Sound,” release show Feb. 17 at Grizzly Hall. FEB. 24: Shinyribs, “I Got Your Medicine,” release show March 3 at Antone’s. FEB. 24: Scott H. Biram, “The Bad Testament” (Bloodshot). MARCH 17: Spoon, “Hot Thoughts” (Matador). MARCH 31: Toma, “Aroma.” APRIL 7: Darden Smith, “Everything,” release show April 8 at Stateside at the Paramount. APRIL: Willie Nelson, “God’s Problem Child.”

READ MORE: Willie Nelson’s next album will feature a song inspired by the 2016 election