Pam Tillis (Epic/Lucky Dog)

Tillis has never sounded better than she does here, on her eighth album. Maybe she gets a warm feeling from the idea of paying this loving tribute to her father, country great Mel Tillis, 70. Or maybe, in covering 13 of her dad's songs, she just has some great material to work with. Pam, not previously suspected of having a sense of humor, delivers a surprisingly witty rendition of "Unmitigated Gall": "So, all in all/ If the curtain should fall/ I hope it falls on you."

Often affected in her past work, she sounds genuinely emotional on "Heart Over Mind" and wistful on "Violet and a Rose," which features unmistakable guest vocals by Dolly Parton. Pam even gets a little bluesy on the jazz-tinged "Emotions," while Mel himself chimes in on the duet "Not Like It Was with You." Mel also joins his daughter, four of his other children and four of his grandchildren on "Come On and Sing," a Sesame Street-ready tune that is perfect for the next family sing-along.

Bottom Line: Does Dad proud

Eve (Ruff Ryders/Interscope)
Album of the week

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Lauryn Hill has gone acoustic, Lil' Kim has become a costumed caricature, and Missy Elliott is caught up in her own spacey brand of trip-hop. But Eve is still keeping it real for the ladies in hip hop. On her excellent third album she renews the street cred she earned as the only female rapper in the hardcore Ruff Ryders posse (DMX, the LOX et al), while continuing the artistic development that won her a Grammy this year for "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," her crossover collaboration with No Doubt's Gwen Stefani. Eve once again shows a knack for picking female duet partners on "Gangsta Lovin'," this disc's bumping first single, which features Alicia Keys singing the hook borrowed from Yarbrough & Peoples' 1981 R&B hit "Don't Stop the Music."

Eve also successfully teams up with Truth Hurts on "What," which boasts a sinister G-funk groove produced by Dr. Dre. When she goes it alone, though, Eve is equally effective—whether the former stripper is giving an empowered-woman spin on Prince's "Irresistible Bitch" or encouraging kids to stay on the right path on "As I Grow," a poignant plea that shows how much she has matured.

Bottom Line: It'll blow ya mind

Coldplay (Capitol)

Fame is treating Coldplay well: gigs opening for U2, celebrity fans like Gwyneth Paltrow and a Grammy for best alternative music album for the Brit quartet's shimmering 2000 debut, Parachutes. Luckily, as this textured, understated follow-up demonstrates, success doesn't seem to have gone to the heads of former University College London chums Chris Martin, Will Champion, Guy Berryman and Jonny Buckland.

Toning down the Radiohead-iness, Coldplay creates moments of absolute poetry on Rush, blending moody guitars and bass, subtle percussion and emphatic keyboards on tightly wrought dissections of political and personal disasters. "I'm going to buy a gun and start a war/ If you can tell me something worth fighting for," front-man Martin declares on the rueful title track. Elsewhere, on the heartbreaking, piano-driven ballad "The Scientist," Martin grieves for a lost love in his most mournful tenor: "Tell me you love me/ Come back and haunt me/ Oh and I rush to the start." His pain is pure listening pleasure.

Bottom Line: No sophomore slump for these lads

  • Contributors:
  • Ralph Novak,
  • Chuck Arnold,
  • Sona Charaipotra.