Bobby Pinson - Man Like Me (RCA Records): Nothing grabs listeners more than songs from personal experience, and Bobby Pinson's debut succeeds exactly because of that. His raspy voice, reminiscent of John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen, echoes with warnings, humor, and regret. The CD's first single "Don't Ask Me How I Know," warns us not to "lose the girl at home you love for a night in Panama City" or "rush off the phone when your momma calls; you ain't that busy." In the lighthearted romp "Started a Band," he sings about how record executives "just couldn't pull the trigger - that's Nashville speak for 'I stunk.' " If Pinson ever did stink, this record proves he doesn't anymore. By Vic Roberts


Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - Cold Roses (Lost Highway): Ryan Adams needs a gardener. Although he's an immensely gifted singer and songwriter, there have been far too many weeds among the flowers on his many CDs, choking off what should have been major stardom by now. Choosing prolific over profound, Adams has frustrated fans and critics with a careless series of releases which give the impression that he simply records everything he writes and rushes it into the marketplace. Of the 18 tracks on this set of CDs, perhaps four are stellar - "Magnolia Mountain" is taut and compelling with crackling, country-tinged backing from the talented Cardinals, and "Sweet Illusions" features a sensitive duet with singer Rachael Yamagata. The rest is a forgettable grab-bag of cloying country ballads and noisy rockers. By John Kehe

Coldplay - X&Y (Capitol): Review copies of Coldplay's massively hyped third album were only available to a select few reviewers approved by the label, and even then they had to sign a legal document and promise to return the disc via FedEx. You'd think the label were guarding the formula for Coca-Cola. While the British quartet's "X&Y" certainly isn't New Coke, it's no classic. Chris Martin's lyrics, though earnest, feature predictable rhymes in each couplet and the tunes suffer from an overly slick sheen. On the plus side, the majestic guitars and drums are more prominent on this likeable disc and Martin's octave-hopping voice delivers sublime arena-anthem choruses - indeed, "Talk" and "Low" have surely reserved their place on a future "Best of." Too bad that the mushy "Fix You," a likely future single, borders on self parody. By Stephen Humphries


Star Wars Episode III: The Motion Picture Soundtrack - John Williams and the London Symphony and London Voices (Sony Classical):What better vehicle can there be to express the epic scope and range of emotions in "Star Wars" than a top-notch symphony orchestra, with its ability to speak in a wide range of musical voices? In his finale to the "Star Wars" movie saga, composer Williams doesn't deliver memorable new themes on a par with episodes past. But to illustrate Anakin Skywalker's descent into darkness he does produce exciting, evocative new material while also quoting effectively from familiar "Star Wars" anthems. The London Voices supply sometimes gorgeous, sometimes toe-tingling walls of sound. A 70-minute bonus DVD retells the tale from Episode 1 to 6 in well-edited music videos that showcase how Williams's effective use of a wide range of styles has been an integral part of the sci-fi saga's astounding success. By Gregory M. Lamb

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