A musician friend recently asked me what era of music is my favorite, and my immediate response was the music that's out there now. In a similar way, it almost always seems at this time of year that the year just ending has been the best one ever for music, and this year that seems even more so, and not only because of the following CDs. Read on.
1. Shelby Lynne - Just a Little Lovin' (Lost Highway)
Listen to "The Look of Love"
A Superb Piece of Work: I knew instantly when I first heard this record early on in 2008 that it would be my album of the year, and no matter how many times I've listened to it since, my awe at the quality of this loving tribute to Dusty Springfield continues to grow. Start with the arrangements which are so open that they derive great power from their simplicity - the first sixty seconds of the first song ("Just a Little Lovin'") will stop you dead in your tracks. The song selection is spot on perfect; just the right combination of Dusty's hits with some lesser known songs that she sang, plus one new original by Shelby that totally, totally fits with the other songs which represent the cream of the best American pop songwriting.
The sequencing of the songs is brilliant too, a point that became abundantly clear while watching Shelby perform this album in song order at SXSW (please start the song above, then follow this link to see the photos from SXSW). The vocal work by Shelby here is revelatory too, while she's always been a great singer, she takes it to a whole new level here. And finally there's the amazing sound quality of the record, also available on 12" vinyl, which is the result of producer Phil Ramone's genius combined with Shelby's insistence on old-school recording technology, analog recording on two-inch tape. This album is an artistic triumph on every possible level.
2. Jack Lee & Annekei - Letter (Truspace)
Listen to "I Miss You More"
A Pure Sweet Voice: With two previous albums released in Asia and in her native Denmark, Annekei took time out from working on her third album to sing with Korean jazz guitarist Jack Lee on this delightful record. The album contains three originals (like the tune above) written or co-written by Annekei, with the rest being a collection of covers which draw from any number of styles and time periods. It's a real treat to hear Annekei sing Sting and Stevie Wonder and even well worn chestnuts like "Paper Moon" and "Besame Mucho" sound fresh and new in Annekei's pure sweet voice. Her take on the Bee Gees' "How Deep is Your Love" leaves other cover versions in the dust.
Jack Lee's super mellow guitar work is a treat for the ear as well, as are contributions by several more guest musicians and singers. Jazz, Latin, and Brazilian influences are represented here too, and all make for a great listen. The two Jobim tunes are outstanding and the acapella version of Roy Orbison's "Llorando" ("Crying" sung in Spanish) closes the set beautifully. The physical CD is not released here, but the expense of mail ordering from Korea can be avoided by following the link above to U.S. iTunes where this is available for $9.99, a steal.
3. Chiara Civello - The Space Between (Universal)
Listen to "Night"
Hard to Find but Maybe Not for Long: Chiara was born in Italy, attended Berklee School of Music in Boston on a scholarship, moved to New York and was immediately signed to Verve and in 2005 made an excellent first album, Last Quarter Moon.Universal released her second album, The Space Between in 2008 in Europe and Asia but it still awaits release here in the United States. Her music is a beautful mix of Brazilian jazz and pop with the songwriting sensibility of our best singer-songwriters. Her voice is beautiful, the production is perfectly suited to the songs, and the result is a set of music that is relaxing and exciting at the same time. On the surface that may seem contradictory but I assure you that after a couple of spins you'll find The Space Between to be a real gem.
In the absence of U.S. release, this album has been extremely hard to find. The good news from Chiara is that a U.S. release is in the works for Spring 2009, plus after more than a year's absence from performing here, she's booked to play a residency at the Living Room, every Monday in the month of March. The Japanese edition of The Space Between includes a bonus track, reported to be Chiara's favorite song, a beautiful cover of "Moon River" which doesn't seem to be available anywhere else or on any download site. With that in mind, I'm pleased to offer the first ever year end top ten list bonus track. Enjoy.
Top Ten Bonus Track - Listen to Chiara Civello - "Moon River"
4. Buddy Guy - Skin Deep (Zomba)
Listen to "Too Many Tears" feat. Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi
Not Slowing Down: Buddy Guy's electric blues/rock has driven the genre for decades, and based on the sound of his latest release, he may be older but he's not slowing down in the slightest. Derek Trucks, Robert Randolph and Eric Clapton are among the guitar firepower guesting with Buddy this time. Listen on the above player to Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi joining Buddy on "Too Many Tears", this track tells you everything that you need to know about Skin Deep.
5. Sia - Some People Have Real Problems (Hear Music)
Listen to "Day Too Soon"
Worth the Wait: In the four years since Sia's last CD, she would occasionally play up her wacky side, and she released a beautiful but sadly incomplete live album Lady Croissant (her usual live show would have fit unedited on the CD). Considering all that, I'm happy to report that Some People Have Real Problemspicks right up where Colour the Small Oneleft off, with more consistently great songwriting by Sia. Production and arrangements excel, and this album is a work of quality from start to finish that gets better with repeat listening. Sia's live show was one of the highlights of SXSW (follow link to see photos), and the new songs worked perfectly in the context of live performance alongside her older more familiar tunes, which is a further testament to the quality of Some People Have Real Problems.
6. Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue (Warner Brothers)
Listen to "Acid Tongue"
Deep, Tuneful & Rockin': While there are many good things to be said about Jenny Lewis' work as a member of Rilo Kiley, her songwriting skill really takes center stage on her two solo efforts, of which this is the latest. The music is a compelling mix of rock, folk and blues with a country twist. Lyrically the songs are deep and can seem slightly disturbing to the casual listener ("Jack Killed Mom"). As explained by someone who is conversant with the actual meanings of the songs, this is music with deep context that reveals itself only with detailed knowledge of Jenny and her history. Her vocals are highly appealing and whether she's rocking out like on "Carpetbaggers" or "The Last Messiah" or slowing it down acoustic with harmony like on the title track, this is a work of quality from start to finish, and in live performance it gets even better.
7. Freddy V - Easier Than It Looks (Freddy V Music)
Listen to "Nashville"
For the past ten years Freddy V (Fred Vigdor) has been the saxophone voice of Average White Band, doubling on keyboards and vocals. His fabulous sax work has been a big part of the reason that AWB keeps improving year after year, always playing at the very top of their game. For the last three years or so, Fred's been working on this, his solo debut album, and it's a beautiful collection of old school sax oriented jazz, soul, and funk. AWB founder Alan Gorrie wrote and sings a new composition for this album. Fred also reworks the classic AWB tune "Let's Go Round Again", sung here by AWB bandmate Klyde Jones, who is another big reason for the continuing excellence of that band. Fred's sax work is gorgeous throughout this most enjoyable album which features some great playing by all parties, nice backing vocals, and a Hammond B-3 which is prominent in the mix.
8. Southside Johnny with LaBamba's Big Band - Grapefruit Moon: The Songs Of Tom Waits (Redeye)
Listen to "Walk Away" feat. Tom Waits
At first glance the concept of Southside Johnny Lyon recording an album of Tom Waits compositions seems right out of left field, but the proof of the genius of this combination is right there in the grooves, or whatever passes for grooves these days. There are two keys to why this album is such an artistic success. The first is the LaBamba Big Band, an ensemble led by Richie "LaBamba" Rosenberg, a member of the Max Weinberg Seven and frequent comedic foil of Conan O'Brien. Together with impeccable production by Dan Gralick, the big band sets each song in the jazzy bluesy razzmatazz film noir sort of world in which most of Waits' songs originate. The second big reason this works is that Southside Johnny is a highly underrated singer whose forte is singing blues and soul and he totally nails every one of the Waits songs that were adeptly chosen for this recording, wisely avoiding the obvious (no "Jersey Girl") yet selecting an awesome set of music. Waits offered his stamp of approval by singing duet with Johnny on the above track, play it loud to get a good sense of what pleasures await you on the rest of this excellent record.
9. Swing Out Sister - Beautiful Mess (Avex Japan, Import)
Listen to "Beautiful Mess"
Another Gem You Can't Easily Buy: As if we needed any further proof that the record labels don't have a clue, this fine band hasn't had a real contract for U.S. distribution since the American Mercury label folded some years ago, also stranding Del Amitri and Texas among others. Beautiful Messis Swing Out's ninth album, not counting live and best-of collections. Mixing rock, pop, soul and jazz, and a fascination with sixties Burt Bacharach and Fifth Dimension style soul/pop, Swing Out Sister have forged a very strong collection of records, every one finely crafted and highly listenable, and Beautiful Messis a more than worthy addition to that catalogue. Corinne Drewery's gorgeous voice hasn't changed at all in the twenty-one years since their first album.
Released in Japan in February with worldwide release intended shortly thereafter, the band initially sold their newest effort by direct mail to their fans around the world for £10.00 to combat import prices being asked as high as $60.00 USD on the internet. Despite a short-lived availability on Amazon UK (still available there on mp3, a bargain at £7.99 but you have to live in the UK to buy there), the worldwide release is unfortunately still pending. The best source at the moment seems to be the UK release now carried by Amazonhere in the states at $21.98. Another option is the CD Japan website where a special edition of Beautiful Mess comes packaged with the excellent Live in Tokyo album for 2800yen plus 500yen shipping for a total cost of approximately $33.40 USD. Swing Out Sister has remained hugely popular in Japan throughout their career and to hear why you need look no further than Beautiful Mess.
10. The Weepies - Hideaway (Nettwerk)
Listen to "Hideaway"
Deb Talan and Steve Tannen are two excellent songwriters who are probably better known to other songwriters than they are to the general public. Joining forces around 2003 to form the Weepies, they have written and recorded three gems of folk/pop with great songs, beautiful harmonies and spot on arrangements and production. After taking time to get married, start a family, and write songs with Mandy Moore for her 2007 release Wild Hope (see last year's top ten), they came back in 2008 with this, their third album. The songs are uniformly excellent including their own version of one that they co-wrote with Mandy for her album ("All Good Things").
Best New Artists of 2008
There are three artists whose original music played live at Rockwood Music Hall, the Living Room, and elsewhere made as much of an impact on my 2008 listening as the above top ten CDs, if not more so. At year's end Annekei, Chrissi Poland and Shayna Zaid are all writing and recording albums of the original songs that they've been playing live all year.
Interestingly, these CDs when finished will mark the U.S. debut for each, even though two of the three already have successful careers in Asia, two CDs for Annekei in Japan and Korea (plus the above duet CD with Jack Lee), and two for Shayna including number one singles in Malaysia. Chrissi is perhaps the most multi-talented singer, songwriter, and musician I've ever encountered who has yet to be represented in the CD racks. All of this music is hugely exciting and enjoyable. There's nothing better than when music totally grabs you by the head and the heart and all three of these artists do exactly that.
Three Awesome EPs
If any of these EPs had been a full length CD, they'd be in the top ten and the selection process would have been that much more difficult. It is unclear whether these EPs are previews of forthcoming full length CDs or stand-alone releases, but either way they helped make 2008 even that much better in terms of music.
Shayna Zaid - Au Fait EP
Listen to "It's You"
Not counting her two Malaysian albums, this is Shayna's first U.S. release, an EP containing five beautiful songs that she and her talented band have been performing all year at the Rockwood Music Hall and the Living Room in NYC. Shayna's a major talent who won't be independent for long. Au Fait is available at Amazon MP3 and iTunes.
Courtney Jaye - The Exotic Sounds of Courtney Jaye
Listen to Sweet Ride
Courtney Jaye had the good fortune to make her first album with a major label. When it came time to think about her second album, she parted ways with her label in order to take control of her music which she felt she didn't have on the first one. This EP is a five song preview of her upcoming album of the same name. Courtney's music has the unique quality of sounding retro and new at the same time, plus it's a little bit country, a little bit pop, with a touch of Hawaii (where she now lives and records); it all adds up to a sweet ride.
Lelia Broussard - Waiting on the 9
Listen to "Scared to Feel"
Originally from Lafayette Louisiana, Lelia started her career as a singer-songwriter while still a teenager living in Philadelphia. She wrote and recorded one of the best albums of 2006 (Lil-Yah), rereleased as Rise plus or minus a couple of tracks, moved to NYC and later to California where she recorded this, her latest release. The title track refers to the New York subway train, and her mastery of soulful pop music continues on this EP, available at iTunes.
Eighteen More Top Ten Worthy CDs
On a good day, any one of these next eighteen albums could have made the top ten, listed in alphabetical order.
Adele - 19 (XL/Columbia)
All of the songs on Adele's debut album may not sustain the heights of excellence reached by songs like "Chasing Pavements" or "Right as Rain" but Adele can write some great songs and sing them with a voice that's an amazing instrument unto itself. She also covered Bob Dylan's recent classic "Make You Feel My Love" and turned in what may be the best version of this tune that I've heard.
Tina Dico - Count to Ten (Defend Music)
Tina Dico is one of our most consistently great singer songwriters, with a powerful voice that can captivate a room, and a unique songwriting style that has helped her accumulate a body of work that is a treat to hear every time she sings. There are lots of great new tunes on this latest release, including the gorgeous "Sacre Cour", "Cruel to the Sensitive Kind", and "Everybody Knows". The title track is compelling too, "sometimes the fastest way to get there is to go slow, and sometimes the if you want to hold on you've got to let go". Indeed.
Dido - Safe Trip Home (Arista)
Dido's long awaited third album, retains the sonic beauty of her first two efforts, but replaces the anthemic melodic style that earned her a worldwide following with a deeper but less hook laden style of songwriting that's a always pleasure to hear but maybe doesn't send you back to hear it again quite so often as her earlier work. Maybe over the long haul, these songs will take a deeper hold than it seems now.
Duffy - Rockferry (Mercury)
It's something of a mystery how exactly one becomes the next British "It Girl" (I'm not sure K.T. Tunstall or Lily Allen even know), but this year we have two, Duffy and Adele, and both their releases are top ten worthy. If you haven't heard these two fine singer-songwriters, disregard anything you read that calls them "the next Amy Winehouse", they each have large musical talent that will not likely be outweighed by self-destruction in public anytime soon. Dusty Springfield is mentioned most often as a reference point for Duffy, and that's an easy but apt media target, considering Duffy's look and the sensibility of sixties soul/pop that permeates her songs. But as great a singer and an interpreter as Dusty was, she wasn't a songwriter, and Duffy co-wrote all but two of the songs on Rockferry,plus in interviews she gives the impression of being a very driven songwriter, even in a collaborative setting. With Rockferryshe has made a most impressive debut. Duffy's performance at SXSW was another one of the highlights of the festival (follow link to photos).
Julia Fordham - China Blue (Little Boo)
Julia always wanted to make a jazz record, and having excelled in that style on the occasional track earlier in her career, took some time after completing her Vanguard contract with two superb releases (my albums of the year in 2004 and 2006) to start a family and record that jazz album. Consisting of a few familiar originals reworked, a jazz b-side from Concrete Love, and some new originals, China Blue (the title track is one of the reworked classics from her Porcelain album) is a gorgeous record. For a quick handle on what's happening here, check out "Holiday". Michael McDonald took such a liking to Julia's cover of his "I Keep Forgettin'" that he offered to add backing vocals to the track, an offer that Julia happily accepted.
Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree (Mute)
Goldfrapp joined the ranks of the risk-takers in 2008 by dropping the club-ready synthesizers and rhythm tracks that characterized their work up to this point and went for a more organic, melodic, and softer approach that won them accolades across the board. The very first track "Clowns" goes to a level of beauty and simple yet beautifully layered production that lays it right out there and may well leave their club fans wondering where Goldfrapp went.
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive (Vagrant)
While no one's gonna mistake this record for Born to Run, The Hold Steady have enough elements in common with early Bruce Springsteen to warrant all the comparisons you've heard. Stay Positive rocks with a level of abandon that recalls the common ground between the Who and the Clash, or closer to home, the place where first decade Springsteen and Black 47 coincide. The deliciously fuzzed out electric rhythm guitar powers nearly every track, but beneath all that there are some higher level components working, like some great lead guitar solos, even some nicely placed violin. The songs are well written and the net result is some loud ass rock that you don't need a lobotomy to enjoy. It's fun too.
B.B. King - One Kind Favor (Geffen)
With uber-producer T. Bone Burnett at the helm, B.B. King celebrated his 82nd birthday with a release that includes everything that's great about this national treasure of a bluesman. On the surface, the sound is more mellow and restrained than the blues fireworks you can hear on the Buddy Guy record, One King Favor rings true with some great arrangements and B.B.'s classic licks playing against the great sound of the Hammond B-3 organ. B.B.'s guitar and vocals are in fine form, and you could do yourself no better favor than to pick up a copy of One Kind Favor.
Sonny Landreth - From the Reach (Landfall)
Sonny Landreth is both a guitar player's guitar player and the prime embodiment of Louisiana bayou slide guitar and his live show will rock your soul every time out. As great a player, singer and songwriter as he is, Landreth's material didn't have much in the way of style variation from one song to another, until now. On From the Reach, Landreth partners with a succession of guest artists (Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson, Dr. John, Jimmy Buffet, Vince Gill and Nadirah Shakoor) and the result is a terrific step outside the box and a record that is satisfying from beginning to end, and as varied as the songs may be, Landreth's signature slide guitar is present on every tune; this may be Landreth's best effort to date.
Sharon Little - Perfect Time for a Breakdown (CBS)
Before being signed to CBS at the end of 2007, Sharon Little occupied her time waiting tables at restaurants in the Philadelphia suburbs in between performing her music in clubs and coffeehouses from Philadelphia to New York. Backed by co-writer, producer and partner Scott Sax, Sharon's compelling voice and performing style made her live shows an exceptional pleasure. The CBS deal paved the way not only for the release of Perfect Time for a Breakdown, but a prized opening spot on the Allison Krause/Robert Plant tour that occupied a good chunk of 2008 and gave Sharon & Scott unprecented exposure and won them many new fans.
Laura Marling - Alas I Cannot Swim (Astralwerks)
There's a depth and beauty to Laura Marling's music, both in her subtle melodies and her not so subtle lyrics that seems impossible for someone so young (eighteen), but Laura released this excellent debut album and came over from Britain to play SXSW and the Mercury Lounge in NYC, blowing away audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and proving that the album only scratches the surface of what's to come from this talented singer and songwriter.
Rebecca Martin - The Growing Season (Sunnyside)
Rebecca Martin has that combination of beautiful voice, superb songwriting skill, and a subtle jazz/pop style that makes seeing her sing, an anytime anywhere proposition. It's been a four year wait since her last album, and while The Growing Seasonfeatures a bit more of a band arrangement and production than her last, perhaps making it a little more readily accessible, I must say that even though People Behave Like Balladswas slow to reveal it's charms, it remains a work of incredible beauty and one of my all time favorite records. The new one landed in my player too close to year's end to really achieve a full appreciation of the songwriting, but Rebecca never stays in the same place for long, and I'm going to fully enjoy immersing myself in The Growing Season.
The Mother Truckers - Let's All Go to Bed (Funzalo)
If they were only Austin's best bar band, that would be high praise indeed, but The Mother Truckers take that good time rock and roll vibe to the next level with three albums of great original songs of which this is the third. With skilled players at every position, the band is led by co-writers Teal Collins (vocals & guitar) and Josh Zee (fabulous lead guitar) and wherever they go to play it's party time. Their records are all good, but they've never sounded better than on Let's All Go to Bed.
David Sanborn - Here and Gone (Decca)
David Sanborn's career has been rich and long and yet I can't remember a Sanborn album I've enjoyed as much as his latest. Together with producer Phil Ramone (see #1 above) Sanborn has made a record that is steeped in musical history to the same extent that the old school production values define the sound on this incredible record. While the instrumental intersection of jazz, blues, and soul would make for a great set all by itself, Sanborn ups the ante with guest vocals on a number of tracks from Eric Clapton, Sam Moore and Joss Stone all of which are a total delight. Clapton brought his guitar too, joining fabulous musicians like Ricky Peterson who plays the B-3, Christian McBride on bass, Steve Gadd on drums with guitar work by Russell Malone and Derek Trucks, and Lew Soloff on trumpet.
Sharleen Spiteri - Melody (Mercury, Import)
Sharleen Spiteri took a little break from the great Scottish band Texas to make this, her first solo album. No stranger to incorporating classic rock and soul from the past into music that sounds totally new with Texas, here Sharleen took complete creative control and indulged her fantasy to make an album of pop and soul singles in the styles of the best that the fifties and sixties had to offer. This is an immensely enjoyable record and it's sad that this had no more chance of being released in the U.S. than have the last few Texas albums. With the music business in such sad shape you'd think they'd want to offer great music like this to listeners here and not just in the UK, Europe and Japan where Texas has maintained great popularity over the years.
Brooke Waggoner - Heal for the Honey (Swoon Moon)
Brooke gave away her debut EP for free and in so doing established a level of musical quality both in composition and performance rare in a debut recording from a new artist. Brooke's classical training may have played a part, but her songwriting skill and her endearing performances made it clear in 2008 that she has a lot to offer. And after closing last year's SXSW festival with a beautiful late night set, she didn't take long to follow that with her first full length album, Heal for the Honeywhich features varied song styles but a consistent level of excellence. It was also a pleasure to see her do many of the songs from this record at Joe's Pub in NYC later in 2008.
Natalie Walker - With You (Quango/Fontana)
While most press on Natalie Walker concentrates on the electronica aspect of her work, it's her major talent as a singer and a songwriter with a refined sense of melody that makes both of her albums a total joy from beginning to end. The keyboards provide the perfect setting for her songs which sound great both on record and played live with her highly talented band. Music that's this enjoyable deserves a much wider audience than Natalie has been able to reach thus far playing mostly clubs in NYC and in her home city of Philadelphia.
Steve Winwood - Nine Lives (Columbia)
It's really encouraging that so many established artists seem to be moving back toward old school values in their music and Steve Winwood is another great example. His hit laden efforts in the eighties and nineties may have sold lots of records but several years ago Winwood re-embraced that mixture of jazz, folk, and rock that made Traffic's music so enduring (and endearing). On his last album in 2003, Winwood re-discovered the Hammond B-3 organ to my great delight and here he re-discovers his inner lead guitarist as well, playing both instruments to great effect and even holding his own on guitar, playing with Eric Clapton on "Dirty City". Clapton's been busy guesting on such recordings in 2008 and must be enjoying himself as he has followed up some shows that he and Winwood did together in 2008 with a major joint tour in 2009. Winwood hasn't been this much fun to listen to on record since Traffic.
More Albums That Made 2008 Great:
Priscilla Ahn – A Good Day (Blue Note)
Katie Armiger – Believe (Gold River)
Jessie Baylin – Firesight (Verve/Forecast)
Walter Becker – Circus Money (5 Over 12)
Blue Seeds – The Blue Seeds (L-Abe)
Jim Boggia – Misadventures in Stereo (Blue Hammock)
Olivia Broadfield – Eyes Wide Open (Pig Factory)
Solomon Burke – Like a Fire (Shout Factory)
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – Rattlin’ Bones (Sugar Hill)
Joe Cocker – Hymn for My Soul (Fantasy)
Coldplay – Viva LaVida (Capitol)
Coryell Auger Sample Trio – Coolidge Returns (CAST)
Al Green – Lay It Down (Blue Note)
Shannon Haley – Someday Soon (Shannon Haley)
Juliana Hatfield – How to Walk Alone (Ye Olde)
Boo Hewerdine – Toy Box #1 EP (Navigator)
Hooters – Time Stand Still (Hooters Music)
James Hunter – The Hard Way (Hear Music)
Down to Earth (ATO)
Leigh Jones – Music in My Soul (Peak Records)
Richard Julian – Sunday Morning in Saturday Shoes (Manhattan)
Karmina – Backwards Into Beauty (CBS)
Sonya Kitchell – This Storm (Decca)
Greg Laswell – Three Flights from Alto Nido (Vanguard)
Chelsea Lee – Chelsea Lee EP (CL)
Leona Lewis – Spirit (SYCO/Sony/BMG)
Toby Lightman – Let Go (T-Killa)
Los Loneley Boys – Forgiven (Epic)
Kathy Mattea – Coal (Captain Potato)
Rachel McGoye –Beautiful Disaster (10 Spot)
Hilary McRae – Through These Walls (Hear Music)
Megson – Take Yourself a Wife (EDJ)
Meiko – Meiko (Myspace)
Tift Merritt – Another Country (Fantasy)
Marcus Miller – Marcus (Concord Jazz)
Morley – Seen (Wrasse)
Mutlu – Livin’ It (Manhattan)
Carrie Newcomner – The Geography of Light (Philo)
Pacifika – Asunción (Six Degrees)
Brad Pailsley – Play (Arista)
Mandi Perkins – Alice in No Man’s Land
Jenny Reynolds – Next to You (Pretty Okay)
LiLi Roquelin – LiLi Roquelin EP (LR)
Alice Russell – Pot of Gold
Raphael Saadig – The Way I See It (Columbia)
Venissa Santi – Bienvenida (Venissa Santi)
Boz Scaggs – Speak Low (Decca)
Ryan Scott – Smoke & Licorice (Velour)
She & Him – Volume One (Merge)
Sugarland – Love on the Inside (Mercury)
Susan Tedeschi – Back to the River (Verve/Forecast)
Anna Ternheim – Halfway to Five Points U.S. Compilation (Decca)
Watson Twins – Fire Song (Historic)
Alexa Wilkinson – Lions (Alexa Wilkinson)