Is there anything left of the urchin who co-wrote the Libertines' anti-anthems? Can Coldplay's label turn Britain's Pied crack-Piper into a going concern? On Babyshambles' second album, Shotter's Nation, Pete Doherty's muse is given a bath and a square meal. The Kinks (on 'Delivery') and the Cure (on 'There She Goes') are fixers in this effort to turn the Shambles into a pop force. These songs will now stand up on the band's forthcoming stadium tour, even if the band can't. But despite flashes of junkie wit and some nice Kate Moss blues, the fluency of his early lyricism still eludes Doherty.
If you are one of the people who bafflingly made Melua the UK's biggest-selling female artist last year and helped send her second album platinum four times in the process, no doubt you will love this mix of lifeless vocals and plinkety flamenco guitar. For the rest of you, a sickbag is recommended nearby should you attempt to listen to the album in full. From odd opener, 'Mary Pickford', a cloying nursery rhyme sing-song telling the story of American film company United Pictures, to the following clutch of soul-less ballads, this is music by numbers at its most depressing. Thankfully Melua says this is her last album with Wombles manager Mike Batt.
(Beggars Banquet) £11.99
Are the days of middle-class guttersnipes, glottal stopping along to calypso and skiffle, nearing an end? Penate's debut, eagerly awaited since he earned a barbed namecheck on scene parody 'LDN Is a Victim', sounds like the point at which the trend begins to creak like an overloaded bandwagon. Matinee 's rockabilly pop is perky enough, but lacks the colour and originality that helped Lily Allen et al deflect the trustafarian jibes. Penate isn't so cocksure; songs such as re-released single 'Second, Minute or Hour' are as close to the playsafe indie of the Kooks as the rootsy affectations of Jamie T.
(Luaka Bop) £10.99
As seen in his BBC Four documentary Searching For the Wrong-Eyed Jesus , White specialises in a Southern gothic brand of Americana, populated by hellfire preachers, meth dealers and dirt-poor farmers. His fourth album offers a less anguished mood. There are still wild men and misfits, but also tender tributes to daily life, as on the breezy opener, 'A Town Called Amen'. As usual, White's quiet vocals and sharp imagery come set to inventive, ambient backings, a mix of slinky blues, pining steel guitar and spectral voices evoking dusty streets and drowsy backyards. As in White's 'smile like a faded scar', it's subtle, lingering stuff.
Breakfast on the Morning Tram
(Blue Note/EMI) £11.99
If Stacey Kent fans are expecting the usual stylish selection from the Great American Songbook, they're in for a surprise. Here are two Serge Gainsbourg songs, sung in French, one old Fleetwood Mac number and, most intriguing of all, four pieces with lyrics by Kazuo Ishiguro and music by Stacey's other half, Jim Tomlinson. It's still devastatingly stylish, although, frankly, there's not a lot of jazz involved. Ishiguro tends to be a bit wordy, but his 'I Wish I Could Go Travelling Again' suits Stacey's winsome style to perfection, while Gainsbourg's 'La saison des pluies' is a beauty in any circumstances.
Truls Mork (cello), Kathryn Stott (piano)
(Virgin Classics 0946 3 85784 2 0) £12.99
The sinuous melodies of Chopin's solo piano works are a gift for the sonorous cello, as these beautifully played transcriptions of some of the preludes, etudes and nocturnes amply illustrate. Chopin struggled to write for strings, but his friendship with cellist Auguste Franchomme ensured that he really understood the instrument when he came to compose the cello sonata op 65, which Truls Mork and Kathryn Stott play here with supreme poise. A delightful disc.
Soloists, RIAS Kammerchor, Freiburger Barockorchester/Jacobs
(Harmonia Mundi HMC901964/66 - 3CDs) £29.99
Following his award-winning recordings of Figaro and Cosi , Rene Jacobs completes the great Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy with this Don , recorded after its run at last year's Innsbruck Festival. Some of his young performers may have cut more of a dash onstage than they do on disc; but the pacey promise of the overture is largely fulfilled. Johannes Weisser makes a roguish Don and Lorenzo Regazzo a witty Leporello, but it is the women who steal the show, with Alexandrina Pendatchanska an Elvira of fine fury and Olga Pasichnyk a broodingly disconsolate Anna.