Album: Craig Finn, Clear Heart Full Eyes

The Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn is the American equivalent of Elvis Costello, with an inbuilt sneer to his voice and a similarly cold eye for human failings. Both are well in evidence on this solo debut, full of observations about characters who've fallen short in some way, whether it's the depressed wanderer of "Apollo Bay" or the lost soul in "New Friend Jesus" scheming how to use his new-found piety to improve his standing with an old girlfriend. Finn has a nice line in sardonic, declamatory assessments – "Certain things get hard to do when you're living in a rented room"; "I'm alive, except for the inside" – but there's little comparable imagination to the arrangements, which lean towards ironic country-rock and dispirited blues-rock, most fruitfully in the itchy, descriptive guitars of "Apollo Bay".

DOWNLOAD THIS Apollo Bay; New Friend Jesus; Not Much Left of Us