So how bad is it that my academic expertise is in music and psychology and I have never explicitly purchased a CD for my babe?
Yes, of course I believe that music has powerful cognitive and therapeutic capabilities. But aside from having a decent existing music collection to choose from, I tend to be utterly underwhelmed by the bubble gum bouncy covers on CDs marketed for parents, and especially exasperated by printed claims such as “Proven to make your baby smarter!” Really? Who proved it? Cite a reference please.
Marketing griping aside, I do have one immediate recommendation. My brother-in-law gave us a wonderful CD by Nina Gerber, a professional guitarist based in California. Nina’s “Sweet Dreams” album ($15) includes acoustic guitar instrumentals that are lyrical and textured, yet calming for both babes and adults. This album occupied a permanent spot in our CD changer for about 18 months, serving as our evening wind down/sleep signal music.
Only available for via mail order, but I think it's worth it.