Marry Me Jane - Marry Me Jane (Sony/550 Music): The debut album from this pop-rock New York City band is impressive. Singer-songwriter Amanda Kravat's voice - reminiscent of early Rickie Lee Jones - is raw but tender and beautiful. Most of the songs are slow and melodious, with lyrics brooding over love gone wrong. Here Kravat is at her best. But the few fast rock tunes are tight and memorable, especially ''Twentyone.'' Ten of these 13 songs, plus musical score by Kravat, provide the soundtrack for the new movie ''If Lucy Fell.''
- Elizabeth Brown
Dar Williams - Mortal City (Razor & Tie): Dar Williams's second CD shows that her melodic, poetic, and vocal skills are all strong enough to carry her alone. Combined, they explain her steady rise to the top of folkdom. The feeling ranges from the rocking ''As Cool as I Am'' and ''The Blessings'' to the pensive ''Mortal City,'' a rambling story of a young woman finding hope in an ice storm. As always, Williams's unique insight invites careful consideration of her message (as the Internet's Dar-list proves) including plenty of humor in such whimsical titles as ''The Poignant, yet Pointless, Crisis of a Co-Ed'' and ''Southern California Wants to Be Western New York.''
- Jef Scoville
Catie Curtis - Truth From Lies (Guardian Records):
This may be the sweetest, smartest album you'll hear all year. Cambridge-based singer Curtis is a refreshing optimist. She writes songs of hope and affection. You'll find yourself humming long after the stereo has been shut off. Some favorites are ''Slave to my Belly,'' a funky, humorous lament on the need to work for a living, and ''The Wolf,'' a child's-eye view of domestic violence. Curtis is in the middle of a coast-to-coast tour, and the tickets are well worth the wait in line.
- Scott Baldauf