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CD reviews

Margaret Hair

Matt Pond PA

— “Last Light”

Matt Pond PA was better as a lo-fi band.

On “Last Light,” the garage feel on songs such as “People Have a Way” give the disc the energy it needs to meander through its 13 tracks, but the whole thing is too polished for that to feel sincere. The band has retained its soft, melodic charm, but it’s lost the qualities that made that face actually charming.

Rating: 3 stars

– Margaret Hair, 4 Points

Jill Scott

“The Real Thing: Words and Sounds”

Recommended Stories For You

There’s not much to the songwriting on Jill Scott’s third album, “The Real Thing” – her subjects are standard R&B: relationships, clubs, sex. There’s not much to the music either, with recycled horn lines over muted beats.

But Scott has one of the best voices in her genre. She’s strong; she knows that. And that strength transforms songs that would be ignorable in lesser hands into, at the least, something to notice.

Rating: 3 stars

– Margaret Hair, 4 Points

Matchbox Twenty

“Exile on Mainstream”

Matchbox Twenty, almost 10 years after the angsty balladry (and success) of “Yourself or Someone Like You,” has gotten younger. On “Exile on Mainstream,” leadman Rob Thomas and his band put 11 tracks of their radio hits (“Unwell,” “Push,” “3 am”) up against an EP of tracks that showcase the results of sticking around, breaking up and getting back together.

The hits collection’s accompanying EP isn’t great – mostly because Thomas’s voice is marred by years of singing for the 1990s, adult contemporary pop version of Matchbox Twenty – but it is good, without breaking too far from the mainstream these guys construct their songs for.

Rating: 3 stars

– Margaret Hair, 4 Points