ERIN COSTELO, Sweet Marie

(Compass): ***½

Reaching back to early ’70s soul and pop for inspiration, the native Nova Scotian’s self-produced, subtly arranged fifth album feels like balm in troubled times. Her mezzo-soprano melds piercing emotion with a jazz singer’s precise phrasing as she confronts restrictive music industry fads, romantic disappointments, ageism and modern life’s chaos with resilience and sly humor. Highlights: “All in Your Head” (“They say it’s all in your head, you say you’re terrified/ What if I told you that it seems to be justified”), the sultry “Topic of Notes,” “The Sign,” “My Love.” At the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena Wednesday, Oct. 30. erincostelo.com

VAGABON, Vagabon (Nonesuch): ***

Born in Cameroon, based in Brooklyn, and schooled in computer engineering, Laetitia Tamko considers the dynamics of tradition and change from a singular vantage point. It isn’t a huge shift from 2017’s “Infinite Worlds,” which intermittently evoked the Cranberries and other ’90s indie-rockers, but on this self-produced sophomore outing standout tracks like “Flood,” the acoustic-textured “Every Woman” (“All the women I meet are tired/ …We’re steady while holding you all”) and especially “Home Soon” convey stories with minimalist lyrics and eerie synth and string arrangements that drift beyond customary song structure, with mixed results. vagabon.bandcamp.com

TRIGGER HIPPY, Full Circle & Then Some (Turkey Grass/Thirty Tigers): ***½

A welcome return that radiates the gratified joy of a funky jam among friends. Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman, bassist/songwriter Nick Govrik, guitarist Ed Jurdi and expressively earthy vocalist/saxophonist Amber Woodhouse deftly weave blues, gospel, Southern soul, roadhouse boogie and melodic classic rock with three-part harmonies and a solid instinct for feel-good hooks. Highlights: “Don’t Want to Bring You Down,” the pedal steel-dressed “Strung Out on the Pain,” Katrina-themed “Goddamn Hurricane,” the Little Feat-esque “Long Lost Friend.” triggerhippy.com

THE MILK CARTON KIDS,

The Only Ones (Milk Carton Records/Thirty Tigers): ***

Whether you consider this a short album or a long EP, it’s an acoustic keeper. Scaling back to vocals-and-guitars basics after 2018’s more expansive “All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do,” Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan focus on the melodic charm and keen vocal chemistry that make them such a compelling live act. For fans who’ve been along for the ride since their early days playing Hotel Café and McCabe’s, it’s a treat. Highlights: melancholy opener “I Meant Every Word I Said,” “I Was Alive,” the hopeful title track. themilkcartonkids.com