Sahara Smith: Myth of the Heart (Playing in Traffic)

Just 22, this Texas singer-songwriter creates delicious country-rock, threaded with folk and blues, and it's a definite plus that she possesses one of the most enchanting voices around. She often sings in the middle range, but when she bends notes in the upper and lower registers, it'll break your heart.

At different points during these 12 songs, Smith sounds like Alison Krauss, Patty Griffin or Emmylou Harris. Her music isn't technically country—in the traditional or contemporary sense—but you might stumble across elements of each here. In general, Smith's compositions are more timeless, drawing on rock traditions and pop smarts.

Partly responsible for this is T Bone Burnett, who "shepherded" this album (which was produced and mixed by Emile Kelman) and lent to this project some of his favorite session players. Among others, it features drummer Jay Bellerose, bassist Paul Bryan, guitarist Marc Ribot and lap-steel player Greg Leisz.

"The Real Thing" is a sassy, bluesy stroll, while "Tin Man Town" enfolds nouveau bluegrass in a ragtime vibe. The soulful "All I Need" recalls the peppery pop of Fleetwood Mac, with vocals that might make you flash on Christine McVie.

Perhaps the album's best track is "Train Man," which with its tremolo guitar, vaguely Latin rhythm, noir mood and familiar-sounding vocal melody could be a companion tune for Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game."