DEAD ROCK WEST, More Love

(Omnivore): 4 Stars

Frank Lee Drennen and Cindy Wasserman embrace the complicated theme of love throughout their John Doe-produced fourth album, with melodic songs rich in hooks and metaphor. “Boundless Fearless Love” (“I still believe the loser stands a chance”) and their shadow-and-silk harmonies set a hopeful tone that lingers through the uncertain “Stereo” (“Are you one of those who runs from love like a dove from a gun”) and ballads like the yearning “Singing on the Telephone” and “Tell Me Goodbye.” Release show at McCabe’s in Santa Monica Friday, Aug. 11. deadrockwest.com

THE EAGLE ROCK GOSPEL SINGERS,

No Glory (indie release): 3 Stars

Sounding more traditional yet more original, the ERG Singers have come into their own after seven years of developing their style. This is a quantifiable step forward from 2015’s well-received “Heavenly Fire,” from the title track’s joyous, barnburning fervor through the hushed immediacy of “Lay Down Low” and steel-brushed, call-and-response ease of “Over Me.” Popping electric guitar and wailing sax push “Momma Told Me” in a funkier direction, while the handclap-accented “Haunted” and “Dry” showcase the dynamic build of their vocal arrangements. ergospelsingers.com

A.J. CROCE, Just Like Medicine

(Compass/Seedling): 3½ Stars

The ex-San Diegan sounds creatively reinvigorated throughout his ninth album, produced by Muscle Shoals legend Dan Penn. “The Heart That Makes Me Whole” romps with Steve Cropper’s tasty guitar and slippery soul mojo courtesy of Croce’s roadhouse-style piano and co-writer Leon Russell; “The Other Side of Love,” which Croce composed with Penn, flows with relaxed groove greased by the Muscle Shoals Horns and the McCrary Sisters’ harmonies. A stellar backing band featuring guitarist Colin Linden and Swampers bassist David Hood amplifies the vintage feel, but the soul originates in Croce. Highlights: “Cures Just Like Medicine,” the piercing “I Couldn’t Stop.” ajcrocemusic.com

PAUL KELLY, Life is Fine

(GawdAggie/Cooking Vinyl): 3½ Stars

Plugging in with a full band to deliver a musically and emotionally satisfying set, the beloved Aussie songwriter demonstrates that, like fine whiskey, he’s matured without losing his fire. Crisp performance immediacy matches the honesty of rockers like “Rock Out on the Sea” and “Rising Moon,” the poetic “Letter in the Rain” and “Finally Something Good” (“You’re a long cool drink of water on a blazing summer’s day/ You’re autumn trees undressing in the month of May”). It’s disappointing when Vika Bull commands the microphone (“My Man’s Got a Cold”) because Kelly’s in peak, compelling form. paulkelly.com.au