(*****) Even in this iPod era, albums can be journeys of discovery. When I started out on Soap and Water I was armed with a huge admiration for San Francisco-based guitarist and songwriter Chuck Prophet, his work with seminal alt. everything band Green on Red, and his large body of solo work. Soap and Water, however, seemed cloaked in obscurity and the music was oddly rootless. A few dozen plays later and there is not a track I'd change - though I might argue a backing vocal here or a guitar lick there. This is a monumental album of constant surprise, chilled intelligence and quietly assured song writing skill, singing, playing and production. Prophet has said it was inspired by wayward rock icon Alex Chilton, but I also hear Randy Newman's caustic amusement at the human condition, especially on the epic New Kingdom. Wonderful, but time is required.