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Mickey Newbury, ‘Looks Like Rain; Frisco Mabel Joy; Heaven Help the Child; 
Better Days’ (Drag City)

A sophisticated, unconventional Nashville songwriter for artists as disparate as Johnny Cash, Andy Williams, and Solomon Burke, Newbury is best known for his own trio of LPs, referred to as “An American Trilogy,” released from 1969-72. Somber, orchestral, and eerie, these gorgeous, meditative masterpieces have fueled a Newbury cult — current hipster icons Will Oldham and Nick Cave have covered his songs — but it wasn’t until the recent discovery of the master tapes in Elektra’s vault that they could be reissued properly. Better Days completes the picture with demos, rarities, and unreleased tracks.