Ani DiFranco – Allergic To Water

Righteous Babe, 2014

Now in her 40s and married, DiFranco finds a calm, groove-friendly place where her blues and jazz influences are at the forefront of some very soulful songs. An introspective album that is consumed with different aspects of the relationships closest to her, the music follows suit with moody, nearly cathartic folk sensibilities. Now 20 albums deep, DiFranco proves she still has plenty of spirit we can all embrace.

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Carsie Blanton – Not Old, Not New

So Ferocious, 2014

A blogger and musician, Blanton reinterprets some jazz classics from many decades ago through her own vision of intimacy and love, successfully creating a fertile ground for romance to bloom. While Blanton holds down sultry vocals and guitar, the trumpets, pianos, saxophones and clarinets complement her well through mostly a jazz affair that bring new life into classics from decades ago. This is further proof that sophisticated music can be fun, too.

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Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights – Good Egg

Limbostar, 2014

Never one to impose any limits on her imagination, Leeds dabbles with folk-pop, gospel, ska and even moments of jazz on this kid friendly rock album that will certainly be relevant to adults with diverse interests. Leeds has a set of pipes made for rock’n'roll and even shows a punk influence on the anthemic ‘Germs’, but isn’t afraid of sweet lullabies either.

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The Haden Triplets – The Haden Triplets

Third Man, 2014

The daughters of jazz bassist legend Charlie Haden harmonize in unison while paying tribute to legends like Bill Monroe, The Louvin Brothers, Nick Lowe and others. Extremely graceful, mandolins and fiddles keep the sounds rooted in a country/folk/gospel hybrid, as the sisters retain a traditional feel on these simple yet effective renditions. Beautiful, peaceful and sophisticated, it’s a big leap from their former bands (That Dog, The Decemberists) but no less interesting.

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Jean Rohe – Jean Rohe And The End Of The World Show

Laundry Line, 2013

The vivid storytelling and highly literate wordplay here shows much imagination for this Brooklyn songstress, and her revolving door of sounds ably punctuate that creativity. Darker imagery, world music ideas, breezy island-sounding fun and danceable rhythms give each song an entirely different feel, and some are even sung in Portuguese. A very spiritual listen, Rohe’s vision of folk music is arresting and just so different from her peers, and she plays on her strengths well across this enlightening album.

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Shelley Segal – An Atheist Album

True, 2013

If you were casually listening to this you might mistake Segal’s melodic, light, breezy folk/pop songs as the next indie-songstress to break through into the mainstream. However, as the title suggests, this is a no-punches-pulled godless album that is well thought out and very direct. Though it’s far from radio friendly subject matter, the music is infectiously upbeat with an effortless blend of blues, rock, pop, and even reggae. The irony here is this is more beautiful than most religious music, and Segal’s voice is nothing short of heavenly.

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