Chris Compton has been making music in these parts for the better part of two decades. A writer of eloquent, insightful songs, Compton probes the nooks and crannies of relationships, family, and the whole circle-of-life thing in a manner that’s always filled with a bemused wonder of it all.His bands through the years (King Cotton, Lapis Lazuli, and The Fossil Record) have tinkered with jam-rock, country-blues, and jazzy riffing, but whatever the stylistic structure, solid songwriting has always been present. Compton is carrying this tradition forward with his solo work. His latest recording, the 10-song CD “Perfect World” is chock full of engaging melodies, sweet harmonies, and thoughtful messages. There are hints of Paul McCartney and Cat Stevens in these songs, but Compton also connects the dots to more contemporary artists such as Josh Rouse and Sam Beam. But these are merely reference points. Compton’s music is wholly his own. The five songs that conclude “Perfect World” are some of the most exquisite pop tunes recorded by a Columbia artist in some time. They have a natural flow that carries the listener through a remarkably varied and satisfying soundscape. Recently I asked him if he had given much thought to the order of the songs on his CD, and Compton admitted that he had. He was also pleased to hear that his sequencing had produced a pleasing effect. Compton is a craftsman in every detail, and it shows in his work. You can catch Compton in concert tonight at Café Strudel on State Street in West Columbia. He’ll start around 8. I advise picking up a copy of “Perfect World” if they’re available. --- Mike Miller.