Song: Even The Rain
Artist: Gabe Dixon feat. Alison Krauss, Nashville
Album: One Spark, 2011
Notes: A true old-school talent and ace pianist, Gabe's been making A+ music for more than ten years, his work harks back to the best melodic singer-songwriter fare of the 1970s, often reminiscent of Billy Joel at his best. Nice guest turn from bluegrass queen Krauss.
Song: Please Forgive Me
Artist: David Gray, England
Album: White Ladder, 1999
Notes: The strong follow-up to his only US Hot 100 hit single, 'Babylon' and taken from his career-defining album. These days, David records most of his albums at his home studio and is currently working on his tenth studio effort.
Song: Bottom of the Sea
Artist: Matt Nathanson, Lexington, MA
Album: Modern Love, 2011
Notes: Few new albums contain more than one or even two top songs - Nathanson's latest effort boasts at least five, including this lovely piano-led roller. Currently touring around the country through the beginning of November.
Song: This Is The Stuff
Artist: Francesca Battistelli, New York
Album: Hundred More Years, 2011
Notes: 26-year old native of the Big Apple with a ukulele-driven gem from her recent album. She normally performs more gospel-inspired pop-rock: her 2009 single, 'Free To Be Me' was nominated for Best Gospel Performance at the 2009 Grammys.
Song: Call Someone
Artist: Thirteen Senses, England
Album: Contact, 2007
Notes: How many more outstanding recordings does this band have to make before more people take notice? Yet another fabulous lost treasure buried on their superb second long-player. If you like Coldplay/Keane etc., pick this up.
Artist: Geoffrey Oryema, Uganda
Album: Exile, 1990
Notes: Ethereal instrumentation which hallmarks this lovely World Music number is provided by the Nanga - a 7-string zither. Veteran Ugandan musician whose aural art was given an international birth by Peter Gabriel in the early 1990s. Album produced by Brian Eno.
Song: Here He Comes
Artist: Brian Eno, England
Notes: After he left Roxy Music as its first keyboardist and before he began pioneering the Ambient music genre, Eno recorded a few fascinating and hugely overlooked pop-rock albums including this one. Phil Collins on drums.
Artist: U2, Ireland
Album: The Unforgettable Fire, 1984
Notes: Produced by Brian Eno and recorded at Slane Castle in Dublin, the quietest cut from their unforgettable 1984 opus. The band's recent '360' tour grossed $736 million, the biggest in history.
Song: Driving In My Car
Artist: Madness, England
Album: Utter Madness, 1982
Notes: Best known of course for their perennial hit Our House, quirky as ever the loveable Madness with the lost single that preceded it. Still going strong today, led by their smartly dressed, irrepressible lead singer, Suggs.
Song: The Beginning of the End
Artist: Steve Moakler, Pittsburgh, PA
Album: Watching Time Run, 2011
Notes: Self-released singer-songwriter magic from Pittsburg-based talent. Steve played in a couple of bands as a teenager, went solo at 18 when he was quoted as saying 'My fear is that I wont pursue my dreams to the fullest, but I have control over that and I won't let it happen'. Right on. More at www.stevemoakler.com.
Song: Just A Little
Artist: Leigh Nash, New Braunfels, TX
Album: Blue on Blue, 2006
Notes: Charming lost pearl with delightful woodwind instrumentation from former (and recently reunited) Sixpence None The Richer lead singer (band name derived from a line in a book by 'Chronicles of Narnia' scribe, C.S. Lewis.)
Song: Say It Ain’t So Joe
Artist: Murray Head, England
Album: Say It Ain't So, 1975
Notes: London born jack-of-all-trades - in addition to a long-running music career he's also a notable film and stage actor, even done some radio drama work. An old photograph of Head was featured on the front cover of Smiths album called 'Stop Me'.
Song: The Man I Love
Artist: Kate Bush, England
Notes: An obscure Kate Bush treatment tucked away on a tribute album to the legendary songwriting team of George and Ira Gershwin, which also features stylish updates by Sting, Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel and Carly Simon among others.
Artist: Midway State, Canada
Album: Paris or India, 2011
Notes: Fresh anthemic modern rock from inventive Toronto-based quartet who cut a secret version of the Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush duet 'Don't Give Up' with Lady Gaga in 2008.
Song: I Don’t Worry
Artist: Bess Rogers, New York
Album: Travel Back EP, 2009
Notes: Cheerful, breezy, ukulele-driven lost nugget from multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter who learned to play the Flute in fourth grade, added ukulele, piano, guitar as she grew up, before earning her musical chops performing on the lower East Side while still attending college in NY.
Song: Different Roads
Artist: Joe Cocker, England
Album: No Ordinary World, 1999
Notes: Old corker Joe's unique blues-drenched voice just gets better with age, so it all comes down to the songs he chooses to record. The 67-year old resides on a ranch in Crawford, CO which he named the Mad Dog Ranch after his classic 1970 album 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen'.
Song: Lost Cause
Artist: Beck, Los Angeles
Album: Sea Change, 2002
Notes: Ever-so-simple but effective gem from perhaps his most morose and least joyful album. Beck's father is an incredibly talented Canadian composer and strings arranger, David Campbell.
Song: Oh, The Divorces!
Artist: Tracey Thorn, England
Album: Love and the Opposite, 2010
Notes: Too good for prime time, effortless class and smart lyrics on this superb self-explanatory observational ditty, the lead-off track on her wonderful solo work from last year.
Song: Give Me What I Cry For
Artist: Chris Rainbow, Scotland
Notes: Overly dramatic but extremely harmonic and most rewarding pop gem from ultra-melodic '70s singer-songwriter/keyboardist - who was also frequent lead singer with the unfashionable Alan Parsons Project in the '80s. Great anthology if you like this kind of (dated) melodic pop-rock.
Artist: Blue October & Imogen Heap, Houston, TX
Album: Foiled, 2006
Notes: Fabulous duet with Imogen from the alternative rock group's biggest album which also features their hit, 'Hate Me'. Band, discovered by Kid Rock's manager, opened for the Rolling Stones in 2006 in Houston.
Song: Baby I
Artist: Amy Millan, Canada
Album: Honey From The Tombs, 2006
Notes: Cute solo cut from one of the singers with the marvelous Canadian band, Stars; she also performs with indie-rockers, Broken Social Scene. Amy gave birth to her first baby earlier this year, a daughter, Delphine.
Song: The Luckiest
Artist: Ben Folds, Winston-Salem, NC
Album: Rockin' The Suburbs, 2001
Notes: Outstanding ballad, highly romantic lost gem from top ivory tinkler who's been playing the piano since the age of 9. Also check out a terrific album last year called 'Lonely Avenue' with lyrics by English novelist, Nick Hornby.
Song: Pink Moon
Artist: Nick Drake, England
Album: Pink Moon, 1972
Notes: Sparse, authentic, pastoral, the real deal from immensely influential and literate English folk poet. Career-defining classic from singer-songwriter who died too soon at the age of 26 in 1974.
Song: My Mistakes
Artist: Eleanor Friedberger, Brooklyn, NY
Album: Last Summer, 2011
Notes: Brand new, delightful pop-rock bubbler. With her brother Matthew, Eleanor is also in the indie rock duo the Fiery Furnaces which has been around for about a decade getting it done out of Brooklyn.
Song: Love Action
Artist: Human League, England
Album: Dare, 1981
Notes: Synth pop-rock outing surprisingly never a hit record in the US despite being on the band's biggest-selling long-player. Core members Phil Oakey, Joanne Catherall and Susan Smalley are still together, often touring and headlining the occasional retro festival.
Song: Burning In The Sun
Artist: Blue Merle, Nashville
Album: Burning In The Sun, 2005
Notes: Such a shame that Blue Merle were only around for a few years from 2003 through 2006 and that they only cut one album - but what an album. Barely a duff track on it, well worth discovering.
Song: Believe Again
Artist: Delta Goodrem, Australia
Album: Delta, 2007
Notes: Huge star down under, indeed everywhere except the US. Big pop ballad which was #1 in her home country. Snapped up by Sony at the tender age of 15, but sadly diagnosed with cancer at the age of 18 - she's recovered but still in remission and devotes much of her energy to helping cancer charities.
Song: Pump It Up
Artist: Elvis Costello & The Attractions, England
Album: This Year's Model, 1978
Notes: How come this wasn't a hit? - one of his finest overlook rock thumpers, great lyrics as ever. Parent LP was voted album of the year by New York's 'Village Voice' magazine in 1978.
Artist: Joshua Radin & Schuyler Fisk, Cleveland, OH/Charlottesville, VA
Notes: Two favorite L&F performers combining on a delightful song which was originally written for the movie soundtrack to 'The Last Kiss's in 2006 - but also used the 2010 film 'Dear John'.
Artist: Rosie Thomas, Livonia, MI
Album: When We Were Small, 2001
Notes: Too sad for words, clearly the saddest song of all time, an absolute pearl from sometime stand-up comedienne and much overlooked songstress who was signed to the always hip Sub Pop label.
Song: Love Love Love
Artist: Avalanche City, New Zealand
Notes: Simple, pleasing confection, already a chart-topper in their home country of New Zealand. Promising new material from folk-rock combo fronted by singer-songwriter, Dave Baxter.
Song: When I’m Small
Artist: Phantogram, Saratoga Springs, NY
Album: Eyelid Movies
Notes: Hypnotic groove broken up by the wispy folkish vocal interlude from the well-groovy electronic rock duo comprising Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter who write and record in a barn which they call Harmony Lodge, located in upstate New York.
Song: It Goes Like It Goes
Artist: Jennifer Warnes, Anaheim, CA
Album: Norma Rae (soundtrack), 1979
Notes: Three minutes of the vocal perfection, timeless ballad by one of the best female vocalists, ever. Unforgettable theme song to the 'Norma Rae' movie. If you don't have her album of Leonard Cohen interpretations, 'Famous Blue Raincoat' then your life is incomplete.
Song: Talkin’ ‘Bout Family
Artist: Max and Simon, New York/Los Angeles
Album: Not available, 2011
Notes: Max and Simon is neither a duo, nor do any members have the name Max or Simon: they're a trio of Blake Healy, Kevin Bard and Mark Rosas, alternately based in NY and LA who describe their mission to 'make the world a better place one sunny day at a time'.
Song: Natural Tune
Artist: Efterklang, Denmark
Album: Magic Chairs, 2010
Notes: Fascinating, worthwhile cut from a creative alternative folk quartet from Copenhagen buried on their third album. Efterklang means 'remembrance' in Danish.
Song: No Other Love
Artist: Chuck Prophet, Whittier, CA
Album: No Other Love, 2002
Notes: Lost gem from a real musician's musician, much in demand among his contemporaries. Strong resume playing with artists like Aimee Mann, Warren Zevon and Cake and his compositions have been covered by the likes of Solomon Burke, Kim Richey, Kelly Willis - even Heart - who recorded a cover of this song.
Song: Chasing Down The Rain
Artist: John Stewart, San Diego, CA
Album: Trancas, 1984
Notes: 'Where's your second chance with your heart alone, And your one light chasing down the rain?' - so evocative, great lyrics from much-revered tunesmith (who was a member of the Kingston Trio in the early '60s, and wrote 'Daydream Believer' for the Monkees). Needless to say, great album has been deleted.
Song: Let The Love Back In
Artist: Orange Lights, England
Notes: Brilliant rock belter from completely overlooked band described by the Guardian newspaper (UK) as the 'missing link between Coldplay and the Verve'. Virtually unknown quartet from Newcastle in the north of England, released only one album to date which, naturally, isn't available.
Song: After The Fire
Artist: Amy Grant, Augusta, GA
Album: Simple Things, 2003
Notes: Reflective, self-penned treasure from Amy's candid and soulful 2003 CD Simple Thing (her best outing by far). Such a simple melody matched with equally understated lyrics and execution.