Tim Easton The Truth About Us

Alt-country devotees ought to rejoice over the release of Tim Easton's solo debut. Backed by three-quarters of Wilco - bassist John Stirrat, drummer Ken Coomer and multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett - Easton is a raspy-voiced songwriter of considerable talent. Front to back, this album is consistently strong. Junkyard percussion sounds drive the catchy "Downtown Lights," while "Happy Now" comes off like a chance encounter between Steve Earle and Matthew Sweet. His open song structures tend to meander, but by the time his choruses arrive, the strength of his melodies takes over. The closing track "Don't Walk Alone," with harmonies from country darlings Marc Olsen and Victoria Williams, rounds out a tastefully arranged nugget of roots-pop. (New West)