Easy! Tiger – 2001 – 38 minutes

Saints preserve us from sensitive singer songwriters. Not a week goes by of late without another example of their melancholy meanderings arriving on my desk. Although an avowed fan of the whole 'skinny-white-guy-with-guitar-and-sad-songs' genre, sometimes it all gets a bit too much, even for me. But then you come across someone special and you're sucked back into the bitter-sweet neverland that these guys inhabit.

This time round it's a Canadian by the name of Howie Beck with an album of pain-wracked pop called 'Hollow'. Thoughtful, and sometimes acid, lyrics combined with memorable tunes and even the occasional up-tempo take on misery make Beck stand out from the multitudes – but he still wears his influences on his sleeve. 'Baby Plays Around on Me' and 'What You Found' wouldn't sound out of place on Elliot Smith's 'Figure 8'; 'She Moves (Rosie)' is The Pernice Brothers circa 'Overcome By Happiness' and Nick Drake's black-eyed dog even makes an appearance on 'Wanted Man'.

Despite this, Beck avoids being predictable. From the strings on 'The Chance is Gone' and 'Scarecrow Down' to the occasional country twang and the fading cry of the abandoned lover in 'The One You Wanted', this is one album worth crying into your beer for.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: Hollow - Baby plays around on me - Maybe I belong - Chance is gone - She moves (Rosie) - I won't be sorry - Scarecrow down - Serves you right - Wanted man - What you found - One you wanted