Things ain't what they used to be, and the Peter Ferko Band isn't the least bit happy about it. So, on the guitar-moody "Rearrange Time," the Ferko quartet and guests spend a lot of energy wishing they could push back the clock in order to retrieve friends that slipped away or mend "fragile loves that broke apart." On the title track, Ferko even yearns for the opportunity to ask "Mr. Einstein to rearrange time."

And that's just one of several tunes on the album in which Ferko meditates on why the past is preferable to the present, as he sorts through an assortment of unrequited romances and lingering regrets. "Let Me Forget," "Blue" and other low-key musings are inspired, at least in part, by the notion that yesterday was the best of days. There are exceptions -- the soul ballad "In Your Eyes," featuring guest vocalist Polly Brown, suggests that not all hope is lost -- but bright moments are fleeting.

All of this pining for what once was could get on your nerves if Ferko and his colleagues weren't so adept at orchestrating the ballads with an atmospheric mix of guitar effects, languid beats and, every now and then, guest Scott Bradley's cool-toned trumpet. The band's enveloping soundscapes contribute mightily to the album's dreamy allure.

Appearing Thursday at the Crossroads in Fairfax. To hear a free Sound Bite from the Peter Ferko Band, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8103. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)