Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues. Lest we thought they were kidding, more enduring vocals and ethereal musings in an Americana setting.
Emmylou Harris – Hard Bargain. Filled with mainly intriguing personal originals, this set carries Ms. Harris more out front and almost rocking with the help of producer/guitarist Jay Joyce and multi-instrumentalist Giles Reaves.
Sondre Lerche – Sondre Lerche. The Norwegian’s latest is a subtler version of his past few heavier outings, but hasn’t lost his sweet rolling melodies and ever-interesting arrangements.
Marc Cohn – Listening Booth: 1970. On paper reworking hits from 1970 might sound frightening, but in execution, Mr. Cohn fully delivers original engaging takes on classics of the singer/songwriter era.
Bruce Cockburn – Small Source of Comfort. After some 30 releases, it is amazing how effective and underrated Mr. Cockburn’s guitar playing remains. A true songwriting craftsman is at work here. The voice is as passionate as the content is intelligent and compelling.
Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What. Simon’s world music explorations and back again bring dazzling effects to this inspired return to form.
Amos Lee – Mission Bell. A shadowy set filled with tight earnest songs with strong vocals and writing with guest star help from Lucinda Williams and Willie Nelson. Quiet and lean arrangements nearly hit the mark every time.