With Harps and Angels, Randy Newman returns to his quirky, brilliant brand of songwriting, which made him a cult favorite before he ventured into movie soundtracks. Newman uses the honky-tonk piano from his native New Orleans to weave stories of betrayal, bemusement and loss. The fact that this album prompted a personal return to Newman's extensive catalogue make this album worthy of this list.
Blitzen Trapper - Furr - Sub Pop Records
In their first album for Sub Pop, Portland heroes, Blitzen Trapper, have built on their experimental folk bona fides to extend the country rock reaches originally marked by Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds. The boys add a post-modern vibe to their evolving sound and ended up creating a memorable disk.
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges - ATO Records
Jim James' exploration into funk with a Prince-like falsetto on Evil Urges wasn't the breakout album, a la Joshua Tree, like many predicted. However, it was a moody and rollicking jam by the best live band currently working the circuit. A great album by one of today's great bands.