Joe Firstman The War of Women

With all the female piano troubadours around these days, it actually seems like a bit of a novelty for a guy like Joe Firstman to come along, especially with a collection of songs that take an uncommonly mature and insightful look at relationships. Thankfully, most of them are instantly memorable, especially the rollicking "Can’t Stop Loving You” ("but I can’t stop hating myself”), and "Now You’re Gorgeous, Now You’re Gone.” "Car Door” has some echoes of Grievous Angel-era Gram Parsons, but mostly Firstman asserts himself as a fully-formed talent on the scale of what Jeff Buckley immediately displayed on Grace. The War of Women packs almost as much emotion into its 15 tracks, with nary a wasted note, despite Firstman sometimes veering into Counting Crows territory at his most musically bombastic. Still, Firstman is a prodigious lyricist throughout and The War of Women is one of the most worthwhile discoveries you can probably make this year. (Atlantic)