Highway Companion
REVIEWED BY CHUCK ARNOLD
CRITIC'S CHOICE
FOLK-ROCK

"It's hard to say/Who you are these days/But you run on anyway/Don't you baby?" So sings Tom Petty on "Saving Grace," the Bo Diddley-esque blues-rocker that is the first single and opening track of his third solo disc. At 55, Petty may not be the rebel he used to be, but he still won't back down, thank you very much. Indeed, in a year marking the 30th anniversary of his first album with the Heartbreakers, the career-revving Highway Companion shows that the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is far from ready to quietly ride off into the sunset.

Produced by Petty's Traveling Wilburys bandmate Jeff Lynne, Highway Companion uses travel—mostly on the road—to symbolize the search for one's direction in midlife. On one tune he's nostalgically heading back "Down South"; on another he defiantly demands to "Turn This Car Around." On the CD's highlight, "Square One," a gentle, folky ballad that is surely one of the most beautiful songs Petty has ever written, he finally finds his way back to himself: "It took a world of trouble/It took a world of tears/It took a long time to get back here." Highway Companion is most definitely worth the journey.

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DOWNLOAD THIS: "Square One"

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DOWNLOAD THIS: "Square One"

Movie Monster
REVIEWED BY CHRIS STRAUSS
ALT-ROCK

This Austin, Texas, sextet has built up plenty of hipster buzz opening for indie darlings like Arcade Fire. While their major-label debut doesn't scale Kong-size heights, it's a solid, expansive effort, from the sing-along pop of "No More Birthdays" to the new-wave-ish synths of "TV Torso." Using wood blocks, trash cans and a piano bench as instruments to push sonic boundaries, they reel you in on cuts like the hypnotic title track.

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DOWNLOAD THIS: "No More Birthdays"

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DOWNLOAD THIS: "No More Birthdays"

My Life
REVIEWED BY RALPH NOVAK
COUNTRY

Having recorded 35 No. 1 country hits in a career spanning more than 30 years, Milsap hardly needs to reestablish his Nashville bona fides. But this excellent album is a welcome reminder of his passion and soulful musicality. At 63, Milsap turns appropriately reflective on "Time Keeps Slipping Away." He is equally affecting with the straightforward romance of "Accept My Love." Milsap, who doesn't play his usual piano, is supported by a first-rate group of backup musicians. This is the work of an old master, who more than makes up for what he lacks in youth with skill and understanding.

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DOWNLOAD THIS: "If It's Gonna Rain"

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DOWNLOAD THIS: "If It's Gonna Rain"

Tangled
REVIEWED BY V.R. PETERSON
JAZZ-POP

Jackie Allen, who made her name in Chicago's vibrant jazz scene, possesses a voice that combines the expressiveness of Annie Lennox and the pitch of Rickie Lee Jones, while achieving its own bright, dramatic sound. Her major-label debut shows off her versatility on an eclectic mix of tracks; she's sassy one moment, tender the next. The highlight? "Tangled," a rock-tinged ballad that weaves its web with searing guitar licks.

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DOWNLOAD THIS: "Tangled"

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DOWNLOAD THIS: "Tangled"

LeToya
REVIEWED BY ERICKA SÓUTER
R&B

Six years after leaving Destiny's Child, LeToya makes a solo debut that will inevitably invite comparisons with Beyoncé. Though she can't match B's energy or vocal gymnastics, this CD proves that she's more than just backup-singer material. Songs like the soulful hit ballad "Torn" and the bouncy hip-hop track "Gangsta Grillz" will have R&B fans saying her name.

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DOWNLOAD THIS: "Gangsta Grillz"

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DOWNLOAD THIS: "Gangsta Grillz"

For more information on where to find our Download This picks, go to www.people.com/downloadthis

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, "SexyBack"

"I'm bringing sexy back/Them other boys don't know how to act," snarls Timberlake, in full rock-your-body mode on the percolating first single from his second solo album, Future Sex/Love Sounds (due Sept. 12). The edgy, electro-infused club banger reunites the singer with "Cry Me a River" producer Timbaland, who, after Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous," continues on his hormone-racing roll.

Johnny Cash, American V: A Hundred Highways: Recorded in the months before his death, this haunting disc finds the country legend poignantly looking back on the road traveled and facing his final journey.

Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint, The River in Reverse: Wry veteran Costello joins New Orleans piano man and R&B treasure Toussaint on a memorable album full of irresistible grooves and social commentary.

India.Arie, Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship: On her inspirational third album, Arie finds strength, courage and wisdom from a failed relationship. Play this the next time you feel the urge to burn all his stuff.

Julie Roberts, Men & Mascara: Roberts's blues-tinged vocals deepen the indigo shade of the country tunes on her achingly good second CD, which should come with waterproof mascara.

The Fray

You've heard their Top 10 hit "Over My Head (Cable Car)" on ER and the title song from their gold debut, How to Save a Life, on Grey's Anatomy and HBO's summer promos. Now meet this TV-friendly Denver rock quartet.

ON THEIR TV EXPOSURE "The whole Grey's and HBO thing, those are shows I watch," says guitarist-vocalist Joe King, 26. "I saw an HBO promo from last year and I loved it. I actually called our manager after I saw that and asked how we could get [a song on] that promo spot. It was unbelievable that it happened this year." But lead singer Isaac Slade, 25, confesses, "I don't have cable. I don't actually have a television."

ON THE INSPIRATION FOR "HOW TO SAVE A LIFE" "There was a guy I knew at a group home," explains Slade. "It was tough to hear his story and tragic descent into drug abuse and alcohol in his teenage years. He was a recovering alcoholic at 17. He was basically asking me how to get through his stuff."