By Adrienne Day
Updated January 11, 2008 at 05:00 AM EST

California balladeer (and Jack Johnson protégé) Matt Costa loads Unfamiliar Faces, his second full-length with folk, indie, and psych-rock tunes — some hits (”Mr. Pitiful”), some misses (”Lilacs”). With a plucky guitar, harmonica, piano, and sun-burnished vocals, Costa knows how to work gospel’s euphoric uplift into secular music, though he follows the blueprints of his idol (a ”Hurdy Gurdy Man”-era Donovan) a tad too closely. Thankfully, his old-timey charms don’t overwhelm; it’s more a reminder that in the Age of iPod, crackly vinyl is still worth cherishing. B+

DOWNLOAD THIS: Stream ”Mr. Pitiful” at the Brushfire Records website

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