The Dylanesque Palo Alto singer-songwriter returns with a thoroughly absorbing new album. Sparse accompaniment and an earnest voice is all Ames needs to hold the listener’s attention. The album opens with the poignant “Arm Yourself With This Song,” in which the singer bolsters the spirits of a friend succumbing to cancer. “The Current” reflects on the flow of life. Baby Boomers who experienced the devolution of socially conscious music from Phil Ochs’ righteous anger to The Beatles’ “Revolution” being used to sell sneakers, will appreciate “How To Kill a Protest Song.” In it, Ames sings, “We’re more invested in rights to songs than in rights and wrongs.” This is a powerful, stark album.