LESLIE STEVENS, Sinner (Thirty Tigers): ***

“I’m not your valedictorian/ Got no flux capacity, no DeLorean,” the LA songwriter warbles on opening track “Storybook,” her sparkling vocal illuminating poetic detours to more universal affirmations: “Love is real and everything else is an illusion/ That much I know, at least for now.” Arrangements shine thanks to producer Jonathan Wilson and a crack band; highlights include the dreamy title track (“There’s bad in the best of us/ There’s good in the rest of us”), the hooky “12 Feet High,” “Falling.” At Moroccan Lounge in downtown LA Saturday, Aug. 17. Lesliestevensmusic.com

FRANK TURNER, No Man’s Land

(Polydor/Xtra Mile): ***

The British troubadour and self-confessed “history nerd” exalts 13 women misrepresented or ignored by history, including Dodge City vaudeville singer Dora Hand and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Execution isn’t always equal to concept but it’s refreshing, especially when Turner magnifies details like Mata Hari’s refusal of a blindfold before blowing a kiss to her firing squad (“Eyes of the Day”). Highlights: the jazzy “Nica,” about the Rothschild heiress’ “mercy missions for musicians”; “A Perfect Wife,” about serial killer Nannie Doss; and the Pogues-ish “The Graveyard of the Outcast Dead,” about medieval church-employed sex workers. Turner’s “Tales From No Man’s Land” podcast digs deeper: frank-turner.com

LEELA JAMES & THE TRUTH BAND, Are You Ready (Sound & EOne): ***½

The Houston-based, LA-raised R&B diva throws down a gauntlet with this taut EP. “I Still Believe” is cousin to last year’s “Did It for Love,” while the throbbing “Get Down” showcases Jairus Mozee’s spiraling guitar solos and James’ gritty ferocity (and spiritual debt to Etta James). The statement-making centerpiece is “That Woman,” which James premiered in March at the Black Girls Rock festival: “Bitch ain’t my name/ Don’t start this fire/ ’Cause I’ll bring the pain.” No doubt. At Burton Chase Park in Marina del Rey Saturday, Aug. 17. Leelajames.com

KYLE CRAFT, Showboat Honey (Sub Pop): ***

The Portland rocker’s latest isn’t as immediately ear-grabbing as 2016’s “Dolls of Highland” or last year’s “Full Circle Nightmare,” yet reinforces his gift for storytelling and synthesizing influences (Bowie, T Rex, Harry Nilsson). He plays almost everything on the surreal “Bed of Needles” and “Deathwish Blue,” but full band collaboration on remaining tracks yields more muscular arrangements. Highlights: the Mellotron-textured “O! Lucky Hand,” and “2 Ugly 4 NY” (“You and me, we’re suckers in a vampire town/ With deadbeat eyes and not enough blood to go ’round”). At Moroccan Lounge in downtown LA Friday, Aug. 23. kylecraft.bandcamp.com