Artist: KT Tunstall
In Brief: It’s not as bold and inventive in the production and songwriting department as Tiger Suit, but KT wanted to make another pop album after the stark, downbeat Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon, and I’ve got to admit that this side of her is more my speed.
Artist: Out of the Grey
Album: A Little Light Left
In Brief: While it’s quite different from the glossy, catchy and quirky pop tunes of their 90s heyday, Out of the Grey has created a mellow and mostly acoustic record that feels authentic to who they are now. It’s not so much a comeback as it is a welcome visit from old friends you haven’t seen in ages.
Artist: Andrew Peterson
Album: The Burning Edge of Dawn
In Brief: While not as bold of a musical statement as Light For the Lost Boy, it’s one of Peterson’s most honest and transparent records yet, a confessional and comforting work to help you get through those “dark nights of the soul”.
Artist: Joy Williams
In Brief: There’s a quiet strength to Venus that I find incredibly appealing. The Civil Wars are irreplaceable, and Williams is wise not to try, but her first full-length solo album in 10 years is still leaps and bounds ahead of her old CCM stuff.
Artist: The Secret Sisters
Album: Put Your Needle Down
In Brief: This neo-traditional country duo swings back and forth between peppy “girl group” songs from a bygone musical era and more brooding alt-country ballads, with a heavy emphasis on songs about breaking up with good men and wishing you knew how to break up with the bad ones.
Year: 2011 (re-released in 2012)
In Brief: A melodically rich, thrillingly nostalgic, and bizarrely eclectic concoction of an album that, though imperfect in both of its forms, marks a formidable debut for a promising young artist.
Artist: Amy Grant
Album: Heart in Motion
In Brief: I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, but twenty years later, Heart in Motion still holds up as a reasonably solid pop record with the occasional deeper thought.