Elvis Perkins' story is a terribly sad one. His father, the actor Anthony Perkins, died of AIDS when Elvis was 17, and his mother, Berry Berenson, was a passenger on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. Perkins examines both of those events on his February debut, "Ash Wednesday," but rather than being angry or self-pitying, his music comes across as gently reflective and warmly melancholy. The lovely, loping "While You Were Sleeping" is a prime example of Perkins' gift and calls to mind the work of singer-songwriters like Van Morrison and Townes Van Zandt.
-- David Marchese