Album: Ry Cooder, I, Flathead (Nonesuch)

Cooder concludes his "California trilogy" with another crusty narrative, this time circulating around the activities and perspectives of an ageing fictional muso, Kash Buk. (There's a separate novella to go with the album.)

And if what you like, above all things, is immaculately played and produced high-resolution Americana, copiously endowed with flathead auto engines, then 'I Flathead' will knock you out. This is Cooder doing what he does best, which is to summon a lost America from his fibres and set it to the music he hears in other people's heads. Impressive, but not deeply moving.

Pick of the Album: 'Steel Guitar Heaven': just like it says on the tin, like