Joe Rathbone projects a tempered hopefulness in his songs. In the opening tune, “Learning to Fly,” he establishes the album’s low-key, gently self-deprecating mood, intoning, “I’ve been waiting for you / You’ve been waiting for me / Let’s go for a walk / Forget about terrible things.” There’s something simple and eminently real about understated sentiments such as these. Echoes of Tom Petty, Marshall Crenshaw and the Finn Brothers permeate the disc, and an Elvis Costello influence occasionally surfaces. Rathbone, however, carefully shuns Costello’s tendency toward verbosity and vitriol. The moving small-town portrait “Hometown Queen” reveals another of the album’s strengths: Rathbone’s and co-producer David Henry’s (Guster, Josh Rouse) attention to musical detail. The subtle use of strings deepens the tune’s inherent melancholia. And while Rathbone hasn’t yet come up something as memorable as his mentors’ classics, he’s fashioned a thoroughly winning pop album filled with strong melodies and well-turned lyrics.