Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this week's CD releases Gretchen Peters, "Dancing With The Beast" (Proper Records)-The latest Proper offering from acclaimed Nashville singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters is a genuine musical tour de force which explores such diverse lyrical themes as American geography, the insecurities prompted by female adolesence and the inexorable passage of time. The latter inspired one of the albums's stand-out tracks, "Arguing With Ghosts," a subtly crafted examination of loneliness which opens "Dancing With The Beast" with rare grace and style, paving the way for a string of similarly under-stated gems led by "Wichita," "The Boy From Rye"and "Lay Low."

Jack Carty & Gus Gardiner, "Hospital Hill" (Dinner Recordings / MGM)- This beguiling showcase for the talents of award-winning Australian singer-songwriter Carty and his bass playing sidekick Gus Gardiner was recorded in the space of just two days with the invaluable support of a string quartet featuring members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Gardiner's exquisite string arrangements lend added charm to what must rank as Carty's finest offering to date, with "Facing South," "Low in the Highlands" and the arresting title track emerging as three of the stand-outs.

Blair Dunlop, "Notes From An Island" (Gilded Wing Records)- Singer, songwriter and eloquent guitar ace Blair Dunlop may only be in his mid-twenties but the son of folk-rock legend Ashley Hutchings has already made quite an impact on the British music scene via his exploits with The Albion Band and, more recently, as a solo performer. Dunlop's fourth album, "Notes From An Island," is a thoughtful and multi-faceted offering which finds him moving a little further from his folk roots as he unveils freshly minted creations such as "One and the Same," "Spices from the East" and the current single, "Sweet On You."

Pure Prairie League, "Firin' Up" (Retroworld)- This 1980 offering was the ninth studio album from often criminally under-rated country-rockers Pure Prairie League and provided an early creative outlet for the talents of future country superstar Vince Gill during his relatively short stint with the band. "Firin' Up" saw the band make their Casablanca Records debut with one of their most commercial offerings to date, spawning a couple of chart singles in the shape of "Let Me Love You Tonight" and "I'm Almost Ready," both featuring vocals by Gill and telling saxophone interjections from the great David Sanborn.