The roots 'n' rolling Freewheelers were one of Los Angeles' most underrated '90s bands. Frontman Luther Russell moved to Portland, Ore. and released several mostly acoustic solo folk-pop albums. Now he's returned to his hometown with autobiographical tales of accusation, desperation, loss and divorce.

Repair reflects when a songwriter hits an emotional bottom and masterfully finds his way back up. Throughout the lean and sometimes mean Repair, Russell shows how to be personal without sacrificing authority and how to express one's sensitive side while avoiding sounding maudlin or dreary.

The soulfully subdued “Lightning Strikes” is a downcast romantic rejection deftly supported by bass and Russell's Nick Lowe-ish voice. Pop piece “My Own Blood” evokes '70s groups such as Badfinger, as the author concedes his marriage disabilities: “I can't leave your side, instead I trade my pride to hide inside a pool of my own blood.”

Putting aside the acrimonious lyrics, Repair stresses melody, confidence and ironically is often warm and friendly.

Grade: B