March 17, 2008 12:00 PM

KATHLEEN EDWARDS Asking for Flowers
“Choosing my words carefully has never been my strength/ I’ve been known to be vague and often pointless.” But Edwards gives the lie to those “Sure as S—” lyrics with this bouquet of alt-country gems.

LUDO You’re Awful, I Love You
The title of this St. Louis band’s major-label debut comes from “Love Me Dead,” the hooky and humorous first single. While their brand of Fuse-friendly punk-pop isn’t always so fresh, it’s consistently fun.

This songbird celebrates a host of female songwriters, ranging from Patti Smith and Nina Simone to sister Shelby Lynne. Best include a lovely version of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” and a smoldering “Ring of Fire.”

Nothing on Jackson’s first studio disc in five years will make you forget “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” Still, this is pretty crafty stuff, seamlessly weaving jazz and even classical into piano-based sophisto-pop.

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