Tim McGraw - Live Like You Were Dying (Curb Records): Plenty of country-music singles have been released in advance of an artist's CD, hoping to generate buzz. That buzz, in Tim McGraw's case, sounds like a buzzsaw as the Aug. 24 release date of his new CD nears. Filled with sweeping violins, the title song recounts the reconciliation of a son with his dying father. While not written by McGraw, this tear-jerker parallels his life. McGraw's Louisiana drawl sizzles with emotion throughout the track as well as the rest of this splendid CD. By Vic Roberts


Angela McCluskey - The Things We Do (Manhattan Records): We've been fooled before. When presented with a powerful vocal instrument, we tend to genuflect before its sheer sound and range. Scottish singer Angela McCluskey possesses one such remarkable instrument. Her husky, emotionally charged vocals breathe fire into this batch of neo-soul (mostly forgettable) tunes, transforming the best of them into powerhouse showcases for her riveting voice. With better material next time out, she'll make believers of us all. By John Kehe

Finn Brothers - Everyone Is Here (Nettwerk): Neil and Tim Finn may not be familiar names to anyone outside the brothers' native New Zealand, but the songs they wrote in Splitz Enz and Crowded House have a place reserved for them in jukebox heaven. The siblings took a break from their respective solo careers to create this, the second Finn Brothers album, after their mother passed away. It's a record full of meditations about familial bonds, but the songs are buoyed with the sort of choruses that the Beatles didn't get around to discovering. The Finns deserve to be bigger names. By Stephen Humphries

World Music

Bebel Gilberto - Bebel Gilberto (Six Degrees): Fans of older Brazilian music will appreciate the nod to traditional bossa nova on Bebel Gilberto's self-titled album, a follow-up to the electronica-tinged "Tanto Tempo." This time, the club-friendly tracks ("Aganjú" and "Cada Beijo") feel organic rather than computer-generated. Elsewhere, the simple orchestration of "Simplesmente" and the light guitar that accompanies "Every Day You've Been Away" provide an effective showcase for Gilberto's delicate, smoky voice. By Heidi Wilson

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