In no particular order (because they’re all completely amazing, and you’ll thank me later)…
1. Matt Nathanson – Modern Love
Matt Nathanson is a storyteller the likes of a Leonard Cohen, a Bruce Springsteen, or a Bono. He taps into the ethos of Generation X, its hopes, its fears, and its glory. What I love so much about Matt Nathanson is that he writes the songs I wish I were able to write. Then he goes and delivers them with a beautiful vocal as well. Song you’ll be singing in the shower tomorrow: Faster.
2. Chantal Kreviazuk – Under These Rocks and Stones
Buying this album was a bit of a whim, really. It was $7.99 at Tower Records, I really liked the album cover, and I was going to see Lisa Loeb in concert. Yeah, I know, you’re wondering how Lisa Loeb has anything to do with this, and I’ll explain. You see, Chantal was opening up for Miss Loeb, and I hadn’t heard her sing before, so I bought her album from Tower Records the night before the concert. And I was blown away! She truly has the voice of an angel, and when I found out she wrote all her songs and music, it made me even more amazed. I know if you give this a listen, you will like it too. Plus, she’s Canadian. Song that reminded me the most of myself: Hands.
3. Sara Bareilles – Kaleidoscope Heart
Most people would remember her for her top 10 single, “Love Song,” but Sara Bareilles is actually a very intriguing artist who puts as much passion into the first song on her record as she does on the last one, and every one in-between. Her second record keeps that focus going, and while it doesn’t have a radio-friendly anthem like “Love Song,” it flows from start to finish. Sara’s lush vocals and every-girl lyrics are inviting and fresh in a way that is hard to deny. Song that gives me chills every time: Uncharted.
4. Tracy Chapman – Telling Stories
Just listen to the title track and tell me that Tracy Chapman isn’t a powerful wordsmith. She weaves a picture so compelling from track to track on this phenomenal album that took four years to create. From the haunting strains of “Less Than Strangers,” to the profound “Paper and Ink,” this album is familiar and as warm as a fuzzy blanket, even when it deals with harsh subject matter. It’s an amazing testament to the power of music and lyrics. Song I put on repeat: Unsung Psalm.
5. Marc Cohn – Burning the Daze
He doesn’t record albums often, but when he gets around to it, they are always amazingly insightful and full of soul. It is almost like he feels what I’m feeling, because he sings from a place I have hardly heard from, but it resonates. His third album was a long time coming, but when it came it was storytelling at its best. And it still is, even 11 years later. Song whose lyrics will pull you in from the start: Saints Preserve Us.
6. Ingrid Michaelson – Girls and Boys
Girls with their guitars have always been interesting, either in a very good way or in a very bad way. Ingrid Michaelson is one of the former, and thank god because she has a voice that speaks volumes. Stripped down and bare, Girls and Boys is her heart and soul, laid out for the listener. With her distinctive style and her flair for a brilliant turn of phrase, Ingrid Michaelson is a jewel that needs to be taken out and admired. Song to groove out to: Glass.
7. Tori Amos – Abnormally Attracted to Sin
For years Tori Amos has been pigeonholed and labeled as “that feminist artist,” when in actuality she has been so much more. She stretches the limits of what a piano can do, and what kinds of stories a piano can tell. Her lyrics are mere icing on the cake. And if you listen to her 10th studio album, you’ll see exactly what I mean. Miss Amos reveals herself in a way she never has before or since, and it’s a beautiful, tortured soul we see. Just like our own. Song that reminds you we all have issues: Not Dying Today.
5 thoughts on “7 Singer-Songwriter Albums You Must Add to Your Collection”
Agreeing 100% on Chapman. Most perfect car music ever written.
I didn’t even think of that before, Clem! But you’re right. Now I listened to her in the car today and it was a very smooth ride. Fast Car indeed.