Song: Saturday Morning
Artist: Rachael Yamagata, Arlington, VA
Album: Chesapeake, 2011
Notes: Breezy, fresh music from A+ singer-songwriter featured on her new album - which is easily her best to date. Six excellent tracks from recordings made at her producer, John Alagia's home.
Song: Golden Brown
Artist: Stranglers, England
Album: La Folie, 1981
Notes: Such an original sound, you don't hear too many contemporary songs played on the harpsichord. This cut marked a much more commercial sound for the original British punk rockers. Reportedly themed on heroin.
Song: Won’t Back Down
Artist: Mat Kearney, Eugene, OR
Album: Nothing Left To Lose, 2006
Notes: Tucked away on his 2006 sophomore album, just a heavenly love song about never giving up. Mat's now a mainstay of a new breed of non-country tunesmiths now making Nashville the most fertile city for singer-songwriters.
Song: I Will Know Your Love
Artist: Beth Nielsen Chapman, Harlingen, TX
Notes: Percolating number from songwriter principally known for penning huge country hits for the likes of Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson etc. Film soundtrack in which it's featured is top-grade.
Song: The Keeper
Artist: Chris Cornell, Seattle, WA
Notes: From the recent Gerard Butler-starring movie 'Machine Gun Preacher'. Strong return to form for former Soundgarden frontman following his bizarre electronic departure with R&B producer Timbaland a few years ago.
Artist: Weepies, Topanga Canyon, CA
Album: Say I Am You, 2006
Notes: So many delightful undiscovered acoustic numbers lying in the vault by the married duo of Deb Talan and Steve Tannen (originally from Cambridge, MA). Simple engaging brand of folk-pop.
Artist: Simply Red, England
Album: Stars, 1991
Notes: Sterling soul-pop number which should have been a smash. Group fronted by one of the best blue-eyed soul singers around, Mick Hucknall. Album sold 7 million copies around the rest of the world.
Song: Life Is Beautiful
Artist: Angel Taylor, Los Angeles
Album: Not (yet) available, 2011
Notes: A bright, poppish brand new number from an L&F favorite. Not in her DNA for this superb young songstress to record a bad song.
Song: Falling In Love Again
Artist: Bryan Ferry, England
Album: As Time Goes By, 1999
Notes: Lovely restrained treatment of the old Marlene Dietrich chestnut from Ferry's overlooked covers album on which he refashioned 15 popular songs and jazz standards.
Song: Free (stripped version)
Artist: Graffiti 6, England
Album: Colours, 2010
Notes: An acoustic update of their full-on electronica belter, 'Free' by the ever-creative new duo of London-based producer Tommy D and singer-songwriter Jamie Scott who previously worked with the likes of KT Tunstall and Alicia Keys.
Song: Fools Like Me
Artist: Lisa Loeb, Bethesda, MD
Notes: A 2004 single which went nowhere from the 'Stat' hitmaker. Great strumming, it rolls along beautifully. Lisa launched her own line of eyewear last year which she described as 'designs to accentuate a life fully lived' (pushing it a bit).
Song: Harder To Say
Artist: Ry Cuming, Australia
Album: Ry Cuming, 2010
Notes: Lovely understated ballad from Aussie newcomer who's only released one long-player to date. Also a top surfer.
Song: I’m Not Yours
Artist: Angus & Julia Stone, Australia
Album: Down The Way, 2010
Notes: A bitter break-up song from down-under duo who've been recording a sturdy brand of folk, pop and blues-tinged music since 2005 (which makes their recent nomination among the ten "Best New Bands in the World 2011' competition currently being staged by MTV as predictably ridiculous).
Song: Obscurity Knocks
Artist: Trash Can Sinatras, Scotland
Album: Cake, 1990
Notes: Scottish band who made a bit of noise during the '90s, they concocted a tuneful brew mixing smart lyrical wordplay and strong pop-rock harmonies in pubs around Scotland in 1986. Still going strong today.
Song: Cold Wind
Artist: Joshua Hyslop, England
Album: Cold Wind EP
Notes: Soft pitch-perfect vocal style and tasteful acoustic backing - great to hear live - Josh is a young, new tunesmith influenced by Ryan Adams, Iron & Wine and Damien Rice. Recorded his debut set at Abbey Road Studio.
Song: Giving It All Away
Artist: Roger Daltrey, England
Album: Daltrey, 1973
Notes: First ever solo recording by one of the great vocalists in rock history. Roger has spent much of this year touring on his own, performing the iconic Who rock opera, 'Tommy'. This ballad co-written by Leo Sayer (not kidding).
Artist: Leo Sayer, England
Album: Silverbird, 1973
Notes: Written and recorded before he started his extremely bland pop vocal career. A fabulous ancient ballad, proving there are no rules on L&F.
Song: Good Year
Artist: Allman Brown, Hong Kong
Album: Digital single, 2011
Notes: Another newcomer based in London, he describes his music as "electro-acoustic". Allman is part of rather cool collective called Songs From A Room, a musical movement that stages gigs in people's homes. More at www.allmanbrown.com.
Song: That’s The Way Love Goes
Artist: Lindsey Buckingham, Palo Alto, CA
Album: Seeds We Sow, 2011
Notes: One of several outstanding tracks on his new album, look out for a reunion tour (and album?) with Fleetwood Mac next year.
Song: Worth The Fight
Artist: Marie Hines, Spartanburg, SC
Album: Worth The Fight, 2011
Notes: Sensational brand new ballad which no-one else will play. Now based in Nashville - Marie records much of her music with a string quartet, and is known to her friends as the Cupcake Queen (apparently a good baker).
Song: Before The Fall
Artist: Rescues, Los Angeles
Album: Let Loose The Horses, 2010
Notes: A few of the group's songs have featured on tv shows ('One Tree Hill' and 'Grey's Anatomy' - both of which regularly feature good lost music). Quartet has been around for about three years, first came to attention in the worthwhile 'John Lennon Songwriting Competition' which has been held every year since 1997.
Song: Crystal Ball
Artist: Keane, England
Album: Under The Iron Sea, 2006
Notes: Consistently recording first-class pop-rock nuggets, very few of which get the notice they deserve. The British quartet has finished writing its new album, now in the studio recording its fifth effort which should be out early next year.
Song: Sweet Surrender
Artist: Sarah McLachlan, Canada
Album: Surfacing, 1997
Notes: Exquisite ambient soundscapes created by Sarah's brilliant producer, Pierre Marchand on so many of her recordings - he's a bit like the Canadian Brian Eno.
Song: My Declaration
Artist: Tom Baxter, England
Album: Feather & Stone, 2004
Notes: Desperate to improve himself after a fall, fantastic lost pearl from relatively unknown tunesmith from England. (This song was covered by actress Eliza Bennett for the fantasy film 'Inkheart' in which she starred in 2008.)
Song: At The River
Artist: Groove Armada, England
Notes: Only 500 copies of this record were released on vinyl back in 1997. Long-standing electronica duo of Andy Cato and Tom Findlay, this great cut features a superb sampled use of the standard, 'Old Cape Cod' by Patti Page.
Song: Danny’s Song
Artist: Loggins & Messina, Los Angeles
Album: Sittin' In, 1971
Notes: Classic folk-pop from way back when - written as a musical gift from Kenny Loggins to his brother Danny on the occasion of the birth of Danny's son, Colin.
Song: All Cried Out
Artist: Alison Moyet, England
Album: Alf, 1984
Notes: Before there was Adele, there was Alison. Terrific pop/soul belter, recorded four years before Adele was even born - by the equally larger-than-life blue-eyed soul queen. Former member of Yazoo (Yaz).
Artist: Linkin Park, Agoura Hills, CA
Album: A Thousand Suns, 2010
Notes: Anthemic modern rock from earlier in the year - the overlooked fourth single from their last album. Both Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington share the mic on different parts of the song.
Song: My Love
Artist: Lene Marlin, Norway
Album: Another Day, 2003
Notes: Too good for prime time - fragile beauty from the Norwegian songbird. Lene's been singer-songwriting since 1998, named Artist of the Year at the Norwegian Grammys the following year.
Song: Not Dark Yet
Artist: Bob Dylan, Duluth, MN
Album: Time Out of Mind, 1997
Notes: 'My sense of humanity has gone down the drain. Behind every beautiful thing, there's been some kind of pain. I just don't see why I should even care. It's not dark yet - but it's getting there.' Too sad for words. Brilliant.
Artist: Nick Lowe, England
Album: Jesus of Cool, 1978
Notes: New Wave-tinged magic from the late '70s by an artist who's been making winning uncompromising music in so many different styles since first emerging in 1967. Once married to Johnny Cash's step-daughter, Carlene Carter.
Song: Shake It Out
Artist: Florence + The Machine, England
Album: Ceremonials, 2011
Notes: They threw the kitchen sink at this one but it all comes together in an anthemic fashion, critics' darlings, Flo & Mach's new single.
Song: Walking To New Orleans
Artist: Fats Domino, New Orleans
Album: Greatest Hits, 2007
Notes: 'You used to be my honey, 'Til you spent all my money' - 120 seconds of vintage class from the unimpeachable Fats Domino. Perhaps the most influential piano stylist among the pioneers of R&B and rock 'n' roll in the 1950s. McCartney wrote a Beatles song which he directly attributes to the ivory tinkling of the Fat Man:
Song: Lady Madonna
Artist: Beatles, England
Album: The Beatles 1967-1970, 1973
Notes: Fats returned the favor in 1968, recording his treatment of the Fab Four's glorious smash released in the same year.
Song: Breathe Me
Artist: Sia, Australia
Album: Colour The Small One, 2004
Notes: Dripping with soul, you might remember this diamond from the last episode of the last season of 'Six Feet Under' on HBO a few years ago. Coca-Cola also used it during the 2010 Winter Olympics coverage - but it was never a hit.
Artist: Joshua Radin, Cleveland, OH
Album: We Were Here, 2006
Notes: Just too good - why isn't he more popular? effortless, wispy craft of singer-songwriter now working out of New York. Three wonderful literate albums to date. More at www.joshuaradin.com.
Song: Best Day
Artist: Dala, Canada
Album: Not available, 2011
Notes: Two minutes of a delightful new track by former high-school friends, Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther who first combined in 2002. Influenced by the likes of Emmylou Harris and the Everly Brothers.
Song: Ghetto Child
Artist: Spinners, Detroit
Album: Spinners, 1973
Notes: If you can't handle this A+ soul nugget, you're probably on the wrong web site. Boasting the songwriting genius and production gloss of the great Thom Bell, mellow R&B from one of Detroit's finest vocal combos.
Song: Labelled With Love
Artist: Squeeze, England
Album: East Side Story, 1981
Notes: Such clever lyricists, a smashing country-flavored lost gem from enduring British New Wavers. Produced by Elvis Costello.
Artist: Norah Jones, Brooklyn, NY
Notes: The unmistakable vocal stylings of Norah on a new cut featured on just-released album (on Dylan's Egyptian Records label) of new songs combining lost Hank Williams lyrics with new melodies supplied by the likes of Sheryl Crow, Jack White, Lucinda Williams and a track by the Bob himself.