Neil Halstead, ‘Oh! Mighty Engine’ (Brushfire)
On Halstead’s second solo outing, the Slowdive and Mojave 3 founder is content to spotlight his hushed singing and acoustic guitar, adding miniscule dashes of piano, steel guitar, etc., for color. But what could be monotonous is gripping: If Halstead lacks the tragic intensity of sonic role model Nick Drake, thoughtful tales like “Little Twig” skillfully capture troubled lives without undue fuss. While “Baby, I Grew You a Beard” radiates charm, “Sometimes the Wheels” — which observes, “Sometimes you can’t keep up” — brilliantly evokes the scary sensation of feeling overwhelmed.