Sometimes when a drummer in an established rock band emerges from the background to the spotlight, he or she defies one’s musical expectations—think Phil Collins and Dave Grohl as examples. Add Tim O’Reagan of the Jayhawks to that distinguished company. There was always a singer/songwriter lurking even behind in his drum kit (he has contributed some songs to the band, i.e. “Bottomless Cup,” on the wonderful 1997 album Sound of Lies) but no one could have anticipated how outstanding this solo alt-country/pop outing is. Tim O’Reagan the album is full of melodically-driven romantic tunes sung in his very John Lennon-influenced vocals (which may account also for the sometimes Beatlesque sound). Certainly it doesn’t hurt to have a few members of the Jayhawks as guests, but O’Reagan is in full command of his baby through his singing, songwriting and his mult-instrumental talents. “These Things” has a romantic old-fashioned European sheen; “Ivy,” with its layered harmonies, is gorgeous; and “Girl/World,” is just one several strong folk rock tunes. The album strikes a balance between being painstakingly-crafted and homespun in its simplicity. Tim O’Regan is a strong contender as one of the best albums of 2006.