Vanessa Peters and Ice Cream on Mondays

Born in Dallas but now an Austin resident, Vanessa Peters is the best kind of singer-songwriter: astute enough to explore the deeper recesses of relationships but tough enough to avoid the pitfalls of sentimentality. Little Films, produced by Peters along with Salim Nourallah, is folk-pop of a rare quality. Encompassing a pleasing assortment of styles ('60s retro jangle, confessional '70s soft rock and modern alt-country), Films features a baker's dozen of well-thought-out songs played with just the right amount of grit.

Songs such as "Signposts," "Such Good Actors" and "Big Time Underground" are literate narratives that weave together like a cinematic treatise on romantic encounters. "The film unreels before me/The celluloid of all these years," Peters sings on "Actors," unafraid of looking back at actions and events both good and bad. Sounding like a cross between Lucinda Williams and Chrissie Hynde, Peters' voice is capable of making even the most difficult situations come off as optimistic. The fact that her fine backing band keeps the proceedings sprightly (thereby avoiding any descent into an overly earnest, Edie Brickell-like wasteland) is just a bonus on an already well-built collection.