MEG BAIRD (ESPERS) returns with her first new record in four years. Seasons on Earth reflects on at least a dozen or so of the things we call "seasons." Their passing has clearly left her the stronger for it. Meg is a thoughtful, spiritual, scientific and skeptical young woman who hears from and speaks back to the world in music. The pristine quality of her voice is the face whose placidity conceals a tangle of thoughts and sensations, and the guitar behind it conveys those complexities with tenacity and clear articulation. Her 2007 solo debut, Dear Companion, was in some ways a record about records, and those who hear and collect them. For that album, Meg sang eight songs by other singers, adding two of her own. Seasons on Earth places itself within the community of singers, songwriters and players; resilient, even rebellious in selfhood, assured of a place to go when the music's over. Here there is a feeling to be tapped, songs to be written-so Meg has written them, saving room for a couple old favorites that fit well with her new work. This is a vision of Meg's music that moves beyond the boundaries of Dear Companion, encompassing production, group playing and Meg's world view to make a more social record, an album that revels with friends and neighbors while observing with a fresh and free sense of itself.