Picks and Pans Review: Recent Raves

updated 09/15/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/15/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CONOR OBERST Conor Oberst
The Bright Eyes singer-songwriter is at his alt-folkie finest on his solo debut, with the bluesy rouser "I Don't Want to Die (in the Hospital)" and the heartbreaking highlight "Lenders in the Temple."

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HEIDI NEWFIELD What Am I Waiting For
The former Trick Pony songstress created a country music gem which includes "Johnny and June"—a song inspired by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash that does the duo proud.

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PAUL WELLER 22 Dreams
With retro '60s soul, psychedelic folk and even an out-of-nowhere tango tune, the Brit pop star's ambitious 21-track collection is a far-reaching mix of eclectic genres. The result? Dreamy.

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AMY MACDONALD This Is the Life
The Scottish import delivers a debut album rich in roots pop, bringing to mind a folkier, feistier version of another great Scot, KT Tunstall. Macdonald's voice packs power and passion into the title tune.

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