Music: The Tops for 2007, Lauren's List

(Editor's Note: One of the more popular posts on this blog from the past year was a short discussion of the best music of the year at its midway point, "Music: The Best of 2007, So Far." That has inspired a series of posts that begins today, as most of this blog's writers weigh in with their take on the best music releases of the past year. The series will run here and there throughout the holidays until the end of the year. Lauren Anderson gets to bat lead-off for the definitive series on the music of 2007.)

by Lauren Anderson

1) Amy WinehouseBack in Black
Winehouse’s music and lyrics encompass every feeling that can be felt and every thought, no matter how brash, that can be thought. As if that isn’t enough, her unique, jazzy voice expresses them beautifully. Even when this album is not playing through my speakers, which is not very often, it is playing in my brain. If you haven’t heard it, listen. And if you don’t like it, listen again. It truly gets better every time.

2) Jason Mraz – Selections for Friends
Mraz tops his previous live album, Tonight Not Again: Jason Mraz Live at the Eagles Ballroom, with this energetic, exciting display of his innovative musicianship. Opening with a thirty-minute medley, Mraz proves that live music and performance truly are his forte as an artist. The rest of the album continues to surprise and amaze.

3) Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds – Live at Radio City
Dave Matthews, who can seemingly do no wrong on his own, came together with accomplished and unique musician Tim Reynolds to create this incredible live album of material from the Dave Matthews Band, Matthews' solo material, and others songs. Dave’s rambling conversations with the crowd and long-winded instrumental improvisations fill the album with energy and excitement that make already great music amazing.

4) John Mayer – The Village Sessions
With each new release, John Mayer just keeps getting more awesome and this newest one is no exception. Not only does he collaborate with Ben Harper but he includes acoustic recordings of some of the best tracks on Continuum, forcing me to wonder if he somehow managed to read my mind and released this album just for my own listening pleasure.

5) Once (Music from the Motion Picture) – Various Artists
I rushed home from the low-budget, indie film Once and went straight to iTunes to search for the soundtrack. The music from this film, which is very reminiscent of Damien Rice, blew me away from the first time I heard it and seems to get better with each listen.

6) Alicia Keys – As I Am
I have been a huge fan of Alicia Key’s since her days of “Fallin” and she continues to amaze me with this new album. Both as a singer and a pianist, her talent is undeniable, as it is with all her albums. The raw passion and emotion she infuses into it all is what sets this album apart. It gives me chills every time I listen.

7) Colbie Callait – Coco
Callait’s buttery smooth and sugary sweet sound is both fun and relaxing. As the female equivalent of Jack Johnson, there is nothing overwhelming or earth shattering about her music, but that might be exactly why I like it.

8) Kate Nash – "Foundations" [US Maxi Single]
I fell in love with “Foundations,” Nash’s first single released in the U.S., the moment I heard it. Her voice and style are reminiscent of Lily Allen and Regina Spektor, a favorite of mine, and I am looking forward to the release of her first album.

(To read the next review list in this series, please go here.)

(Photo of Amy Winehouse from nuflicks of Berlin, Germany, using a Creative Commons License. To see Amy Winehouse's video for "You Know I'm No Good," please check below.)

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