(Anti-): 4 STARS

Rowe’s imposing baritone colors emotional tensions sketched out in vivid songs addressing sacrifices made by artists and their families. The ruggedly romantic pledge “I’ll Follow Your Trail” is followed by the grooving “Newton’s Cradle” and piano ballad “I Can’t Make a Living From Holding You” (“I’m haunted by the man that I’m not/ Yeah, I’m tied to the things I can’t leave”). Memphis producer Matt Ross-Spang surrounds Rowe with pedal steel, soulful organ and harmonies, adding texture to mature stories (“Gas Station Rose,” “You Keep Coming Alive”) and dilemmas familiar to anyone who’s worn some tread on their tires.

TONY FURTADO, Cider House Sessions — Live at Reverend Nat’s

(YouSayFurtado): 3 STARS

Despite having released over 15 albums, Portland multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Furtado remains best known as a concert performer — so this is a boon to fans. Unlike 2003’s “Live Gypsy,” it’s an acoustic set recorded at one venue with longtime friends: mandolinist Matt Flinner, fiddler Luke Price, accordionist Rob Burger, and vocalist wife Stephanie Schneiderman. Highlights: instrumental medley “Amazing Grace/Firecracker” (a terrific showcase for Furtado’s slide work), the banjo-driven “Can’t Lie Down,” harmony-sweetened “Some of Shelly’s Blues,” “Dying Language.” At Boulevard Music in Culver City Friday, April 21.

DAVID OLNEY, Don’t Try to Fight It

(Red Parlor): 3.5 STARS

Co-writing mostly with John Hadley, the veteran songwriter surveys historic and imagined landscapes with acidic humor, insight, and a wicked gift for imagery and metaphor. He envisions “Zeus, the dwarf and his colorful crew” rounding up elephants over a rumbling beat for “Big Top (Tornado)”; turns tender for “Ferris Wheel” (“I’m walking through the valley of the shadow of death/ My eyes are wide, I hear my heart, I hold my breath/ I hope I see tomorrow”); and addresses Hurricane Katrina and a straining relationship with the stomping “Crack in the Wall.” Far from mellowing Olney’s striking intensity, time’s sharpened his musical spears.


(Metropolis): 4 STARS

Paige Stark and Luke Paquin’s long-in-the-making debut was worth the wait. Polished and alluring (think Mazzy Starr jonesing to ’60s girl pop while watching Akira Kurosawa or David Lynch films), tracks like the hopeful “Cool Runnings” and “Facts of Life” find Paquin’s guitar buzzing and thrumming behind Stark’s drums and glistening vocals (“We’d better move fast/ Tonight your future tomorrow will be your past/ We can try to stop time/ But the next thing you know you’ll find yourself so far behind”). Highlights: “Girls on T.V.,” “City.”