BIRD STREETS, Bird Streets (Omnivore): ****

A refreshing collaboration between John Brodeur and Jason Falkner, who also produced. Brodeur’s smart lyrics imbue their sunny pop melodies with graceful substance (“Is there any way to take the high road/ When down is where it leads”) against a backdrop of snappy rhythms, chiming guitars and soaring harmonies. Highlights: “Carry Me,” “Betting On the Sun” (“I remember when/ We were tighter than Steely Dan/ Now the fix is in/ And you’re breaking up with your friends/ …You’re so confident when the consequences are low”), the acoustic-textured “Pretty Bones.” At Hotel Café in Hollywood Saturday, Aug. 25, and Federal Bar in North Hollywood Sunday morning, Aug. 26.

KEVIN GORDON, Tilt and Shine (Crowville): ****

Gordon burnishes his sterling rep with more swampy rock ‘n’ roll and emotionally intelligent, philosophically rich storytelling. Remembered characters exist vividly with the present throughout the album, like the ghosts envisioned on its cover art, as he digs into the loamy soil feeding his Louisiana roots and longtime guitarist/producer Joe McMahan’s evocative slide and tremolo work thickens the portentous atmosphere of standouts like “One Road Out (Angola Rodeo Blues)” and “DeValls Bluff.” “Every river’s a daughter of a dirty rain/ But see how it shines/ Water’s moving like the blood pushing through my veins,” Gordon sings on the masterfully composed “Saint on a Chain.” Listen to this music; it’s wise poetry pulsing with life.

THE SEA THE SEA, From the Light (Tone Tree): ***

Alluringly sung by Mira Stanley with reverbed harmonies from Chuck Costa, the upstate New York pop duo’s songs showcase their tasteful understanding of the dynamics of quiet. They employ hushed passages and restrained vocals for chiaroscuro effect during upliftingly arranged tracks like “Everybody” and “All Go Right,” before suggesting near-spiritual release with the title track’s exulting chorus and the handclapping “Good for Something.” Lovely. RIYL the Lone Bellow and Lucius. 

PETER HOLSAPPLE, Game Day (Omnivore): ***½

After busying himself with the Continental Drifters and dB’s, the pop veteran approaches his first solo album since 1997’s “Out of My Way” with humility. Uncluttered production complements Holsapple’s Everyman vocals and eloquent, hooky songs about abandoning friends, being abandoned by lovers, and being forgotten. Inspired (though unneeded) evidence of his sure-handed songcraft. Highlights: “Commonplace,” the rumbling “In Too Deep,” “She Handed Him a Pencil,” “The Smartest Thing I’ve Ever Done.” Holsapple plays Wild Honey Autism Think Tank backyard concert with Rob Laufer in Eagle Rock Saturday, Aug. 25.