Matt Keating Tiltawhirl

Somewhere between Steve Earle and Blue Rodeo sits a songwriter with an outlaw's imagination and a pop singer's sense of a good hook who's blessed with enough sense not to let either of these tear the other to pieces. His name is Matt Keating. Keating's Tiltawhirl can be mean, haunting and desolate — Townes Van Zandt could have written (or lived) a few of these tracks ("Executioner," "Not Today"). But it is also undeniably attractive to shower stall singers, car stereo divas and air guitar gods everywhere (especially "On Closer Inspection," "Successful," and the undeniably catchy "Believe It"). Tiltawhirl takes a few songs to really get going but by track five the top is wound and spinning. (Future Farmer)