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New Releases, Nov. 17: John Mayer, Paul McCartney, Norah Jones

Plus: Leona Lewis, Kris Allen, Janet Jackson, more

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John Mayer "Battle Studies" (Columbia)

The pop/rock heartthrob, known as much for the company he keeps as he is for the music he makes, returns with his fourth studio album. "Battle Studies" follows the 2006 Grammy-winner "Continuum."

"Battle Studies" was co-produced by Mayer and Steve Jordan. It's been described by Mayer as a "confessional, relaxed and liberated album" that incorporates "the warmth, melodies and simplicity of '70s and '80s California rock/pop," according to a press release.

"I approach music like a director doing a period piece," Mayer said. "Where 'Continuum' was R&B and soul, 'Battle Studies' was written with the timelessness of Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young in mind. The melodies and message are concise and from-the-gut with the efficiency of simplicity."

Mayer will support "Battle Studies" with a tour that kicks off early next year. Beginning with a Feb. 8 date in Charleston, SC, the trek will hit some 40 cities and last roughly two months, concluding with an April 10 show in Chicago. The opening act for the tour will be Michael Franti & Spearhead.

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Paul McCartney
"Good Evening New York City"
(Hear Music)

The Fab vocalist/guitarist will surely benefit from the public's seemingly unquenchable thirst for all things Beatles as he releases a new multi-disc live set. "Good Evening New York City" was culled from three performances back in July at the Big Apple's Citi Field.

"Good Evening New York City" will be available in two formats: a 3-disc (2 CD/1 DVD) standard edition and a 4-disc (2 CD/2 DVD) deluxe version featuring expanded packaging, as well as a bonus DVD including McCartney's July 15 performance atop the Ed Sullivan Theater marquee (including bonus songs not aired during "The Late Show with David Letterman" broadcast). High-quality vinyl editions will also be released.

The set delivers more than 30 songs, totaling approximately three hours of music, and the track listing spans McCartney's entire career, from The Beatles through Wings to recent solo material.

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Norah Jones
"The Fall"
(Blue Note)

Norah Jones shook things up for "The Fall," her fourth album. She experiments with different sounds and a new set of collaborators including noted producer and engineer Jacquire King, who has worked with Kings of Leon, Tom Waits and Modest Mouse, among others. She also brought aboard several songwriting collaborators, including Ryan Adams and Okkervil River's Will Sheff.

The album also features a new group of seasoned musicians, including drummers Joey Waronker (Beck, R.E.M.) and James Gadson (Bill Withers), keyboardist James Poyser (Erykah Badu, Al Green), and guitarists Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello) and Smokey Hormel (Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer).

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Leona Lewis
"Echo"
(Sony)

The Brit songbird, who became a major star in the R&B/pop world with the release of 2007's "Spirit," is looking to continue her multiplatinum ways with the release of her second studio album. The set features more a dozen producers, including ornery "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell and the legendary Clive Davis.

The first single from "Echo" is the cut "Happy," which Lewis performed back in September at the "VH1 Divas" concert. Justin Timberlake, who helped produce and added background vocals on several tracks, is one of the many contributors featured on "Echo."

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Kris Allen
"Kris Allen"
(Jive)

The pop vocalist, who finished in first place during the most recent "American Idol" competition," is set to deliver his eponymous post-"Idol" album. Many will consider it his debut--but, really, it's not: Allen released the CD "Brand New Shoes" back in 2007.

The first single from "Kris Allen" is the track "Live Like We're Dying." There's a legion of producers credited on the album, including Steve Kipner (Christina Aguilera) and Greg Kurstin (The Bird and the Bee).

With this album release date, Allen beats his main competition--2009 "A.I." runner-up, Adam Lambert--to the punch by a few days. Lambert's platter, which has generated far more buzz than Allen's, hits stores Nov. 23.

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Janet Jackson
"Number Ones"
(A&M)

With Michael Jackson mania at its greatest height since the early '80s, the King of Pop's sister, Janet Jackson, is looking to borrow a bit of the spotlight and shine on the Billboard charts with the release of this greatest-hits package. The two-disc "Number Ones" features such smashes as "What Have You Done For Me Lately," "Nasty" and "That's the Way Love Goes."

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More new releases:
Beyonce, "I Am...Sasha Fierce-Deluxe Edition" (Sony)
Andrea Bocelli, "My Christmas-Deluxe Edition" (Philips)
Boyz II Men, "Love" (Decca)
Casting Crowns, "Until the Whole World Hears" (Reunion)
The Doors, "Live in New York" (Rhino)
Fall Out Boy, "Believers Never Die--Greatest Hits" (Island)
Kraftwerk, "The Catalogue" (Astralwerks)
Adam Lambert, "Take One" (Rough Town)
Morrissey, "Swords-Deluxe Edition" (Fontana)
OneRepublic, "Waking Up" (Interscope)
Dave Rawlings Machine, "A Friend of a Friend" (Acony)
Rush, "Working Men" (Atlantic)
Hayley Westenra, "Winter Magic" (Decca)
Robbie Williams, "Reality Killed the Video Star" (EMI)

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