Song: Please Forgive My Heart
Artist: Bobby Womack, Cleveland, OH
Notes: Defining the word 'soul', a stripped-down new classic from a superb comeback album, his first in 18 years, which also features duets with Lana Del Rey and Gil Scott-Heron. Co-produced by the always busy Damon Albarn of Gorillaz and Blur fame.
Song: One Day Like This
Artist: Elbow, England
Album: The Seldom Seen Kid, 2008
Notes: Anthemic corker by the British rockers, almost as good as the Verve's 'Bittersweet Symphony'. Sorely underrated in the US, the album won the prestigious Mercury Music Prize in the UK.
Song: Solsbury Hill
Artist: Peter Gabriel, England
Album: Peter Gabriel, 1977
Notes: The ex-Genesis frontman's very first single which somehow stalled at only #68 on the Billboard Hot 100. Solsbury Hill is a small limestone promontory in the west of England which hovers above the beautiful county of Somerset, close to where Peter lives.
Song: You’ve Got The Love
Artist: Florence + The Machine, England
Album: Lungs, 2009
Notes: Never a hit in the US, a cover version of an original song with a slightly different name, 'You Got The Love' by R&B outfit The Source featuring Candi Staton. Flo Mo's update was originally the B-side in the UK to Dog Days Are Over.
Song: The Luckiest
Artist: Ben Folds, Winston-Salem, NC
Album: Rockin' The Suburbs, 2001
Notes: An outstanding love song by piano man Ben from the first album he recorded after folding the Ben Folds Five. A top ivory tinkler Folds has been playing the piano since the age of nine, influenced by Elton and Billy Joel.
Song: Groovy Train
Artist: Farm, England
Album: Spartacus, 1990
Notes: Nifty guitar work on this groovy pop/rock shuffler courtesy of band member Keith Allen. Also included on a seminal Madchester compilation, 'Happy Daze' which showcased the best new music coming out of the city of Manchester (even though group was from Liverpool).
Song: Tell Me A Tale
Artist: Michael Kiwanuka, England
Album: Home Again, 2011
Notes: Remarkably mature work from 24-year old London newcomer who sounds like Bill Withers. Soul-dipped outing graced by lovely horns and flutes and a general spaced-out '60s soul vibe.
Song: Girls Talk
Artist: Dave Edmunds, Wales
Album: Repeat When Necessary, 1979
Notes: Veteran Welsh singer-guitarist Dave Edmunds with an old wave New Wave rock nugget written by Elvis Costello. Originally released as a 45 on the old Led Zeppelin label, Swansong.
Artist: Bruce Hornsby, Williamsburg, VA
Album: Intersections, 2005
Notes: A divine, extended, jazzy, solo live update of the classic he also co-wrote with original hitmaker, Don Henley. Available on a sensational boxed set of Hornsby's remarkable work from 1985 through 2005.
Artist: Emeli Sande, Scotland
Album: Our Version of Events, 2012
Notes: Truly a song of hope for mankind, an outstanding pop/soul ballad from one of the best albums of the year. Top new singer-songwriter, originally from Scotland from a Zambian father and an English mother - Emeli recently got engaged to a scientist.
Song: On My Own
Artist: Shawn Colvin, Vermillion, SD
Album: All Fall Down, 2012
Notes: The wait is finally over, six long years since any new material from Colvin. The new one features fine guest artists including Emmylou Harris, Jakob Dylan, and Alison Krauss. Unmissable in concert, Shawn's touring all summer long: dates at www.shawncolvin.com.
Artist: Genesis, England
Album: Genesis, 1983
Notes: Tub-thumping lost cracker delivered with passion by Phil Collins and chums from the veteran band's 12th long-player. Collins is now semi-retired from music with various physical ailments which makes any prospect of a Genesis reunion slim.
Song: When We Were Younger
Artist: You Me At Six, England
Album: Sinners Never Sleep, 2011
Notes: Splendid, unheralded slice of Modern Rock by a British five-piece fronted by Josh Francheschi. Most of their music is a lot more hardcore and less accessible.
Artist: Bob Dylan, Duluth, MN
Album: Blood On The Tracks, 1975
Notes: Tender, yearning lost ballad from his finest album, a complete, bittersweet masterpiece. Recorded in Sound 80 Studio in Minneapolis on December 30, 1974.
Song: Broken Lines
Artist: Jules Larson, Los Angeles
Album: Let's Stay Young, 2012
Notes: Fine new offering from a fabulous maiden album by the LA-based songstress. Jules is eking out a living with live gigs and choice placements of her songs on tv shows and movies such as 'Grey's Anatomy', 'One Tree Hill' and the film, 'The Lucky One'. More at www.juleslarson.com.
Song: I Scare Myself
Artist: Thomas Dolby, England
Album: The Flat Earth, 1984
Notes: Cool, noirish jazz-pop from the mid-'80s, entirely different from his wacky electronic signature hit, 'She Blinded Me With Science'. A neat cover version of a song written by cowboy folk singer-songwriter, Dan Hicks.
Song: Ain’t Much More To Say
Artist: Matthew Mayfield, Birmingham, AL
Album: A Banquet For Ghosts, 2012
Notes: A standout cut on his very downbeat new album, a tender treat from the grossly underrated tunesmith. Second solo effort since disbanding his erstwhile group, Moses Mayfield in 2008. More at www.matthewmayfield.com.
Song: When I Grow Up
Artist: First Aid Kit, Sweden
Album: Ghost Town (single), 2010
Notes: Extremely obscure, but a winning lost pearl by the Swedish sister act, the duo of Johanna and Klara Soderberg. A cover version of a song originally written and recorded by another Swedish act, Fever Ray.
Song: How We Operate
Artist: Gomez, England
Album: How We Operate, 2006
Notes: Another Alt-rock gem by the UK comb which has recorded so much worthwhile music on seven albums over 14 years. Produced by Gil Norton who's worked with the Pixies, Foo Fighters, Ben Kweller, Patti Smith, Counting Crows and many others.
Song: The Feeling I Had
Artist: Amy Grant, Nashville
Album: Behind The Eyes, 1997
Notes: A diamond of a ballad Amy wrote in 1997, sadly reflecting on her divorce from Christian singer-songwriter, Gary Chapman. Now married to Country superstar, Vince Gill.
Song: On My Way Back Home
Artist: Band of Horses, Seattle
Album: Infinite Arms, 2010
Notes: Mellifluous nugget from their Grammy-nominated fourth album. They've had a fluid membership since frontman Ben Bridwell formed the combo in 2004. Becoming more popular with each successive release, thy have a strong following across Europe.
Song: A Soft Place To Land
Artist: Kathleen Edwards, Canada
Album: Voyageur, 2012
Notes: Too good for prime time: four albums, four winners, the Canadian songstress is batting a thousand. Recent release was co-produced with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.
Song: Don’t Look Any Further
Artist: Dennis Edwards, Birmingham, AL
Album: Don't Look Any Further, 1984
Notes: Evergreen R&B shuffler from the fabulous vocal talent of former Temptations singer Edwards. Much covered and sampled over the years this number also features the vocal stylings of singer-songwriter Siedah Garret ('Man In The Mirror').
Artist: Selah Sue, Belgium
Album: Selah Sue, 2010
Notes: Highly original outing showcasing her throaty vocal style. Real name is Sanne Putseys, hails from Leefdaal in Belgium. Causing quite a stir in Northern Europe - just 23. Described by a magazine back in her home country as 'a Flemish singer with a Jamaican soul".
Song: Keep It On The Inside
Artist: Matthew Perryman Jones, Levittown, PA
Album: Land of the Living, 2012
Notes: One of several worthwhile cuts on his mostly subdued but splendid new album. Jones performed his very first gig at the venerable Eddie's Attic acoustic venue - the finest hole in the wall club in Atlanta. Lots of concert dates coming up in the autumn: www.mpjmusic.com.
Song: She Said
Artist: Plan B, England
Notes: Overlooked but awfully clever retro soul with a splash of hip-hop from a couple of years ago by a clever Cockney lad from London, Benjamin Balance Drew, aka Plan B. He's also a hip actor who did a fine turn opposite Michael Caine in a gritty blue collar gangster film, 'Harry Brown' in 2009.
Song: Hometown Glory (live)
Artist: Adele, England
Album: iTunes Live from SoHo, 2009
Notes: Glorious in concert performance of a song originally recorded for her debut album, '19' written about how much she loves her native city of London.
Song: Reason To Believe
Artist: Tim Hardin, Eugene, OR
Album: Tim Hardin 1, 1965
Notes: Hard to believe that this classic was written and recorded in 1965 by the great American tunesmith for his seminal folk-rock debut LP. Much covered over the decades by the likes of the Carpenters, Cher, Johnny Cash, Marianne Faithfull but made most famous by Rod Stewart. Hardin died from a heroin overdose in 1980, gone too soon at just 39.
Song: Love Songs
Artist: Anjulie, Canada
Album: Anjulie, 2009
Notes: Another talented songstress from north of the border, Canadian chanteuse with a breezy, swayer from her maiden album which was released on the Starbucks' Hear Music label.
Song: Let Me Fade
Artist: Kate Miller-Heidke, Australia
Album: Nightflight, 2012
Notes: Too sad for words, a song about a woman struggling with depression while trying to raise a child. Kate is one of the finest singer-songwriters to emerge from Australia over the past decade, originally from the lovely city of Brisbane. More at www.katemillerheidke.com.
Song: The One I Love
Artist: David Gray, England
Album: Life In Slow Motion, 2005
Notes: Yet another melodic lost corker from Gray. How many top 50 hits has David Gray had in the US? - none. Only the marvelous 'Babylon' charted on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #57. Recount please.
Song: Hymn # 101
Artist: Joe Pug, Chicago
Album: Nation of Heat, 2008
Notes: Excellent minimalist quality, unstripped, just a man and his guitar. Chicago-based troubadour originally from Maryland - also a strong hamonicist and banjo picker. In his mid-20,s he's opened for the likes of Josh Ritter and Steve Earle - more at www.joepugmusic.com.
Song: Slave To Love
Artist: Bryan Ferry, England
Album: Boys & Girls, 1985
Notes: The now 66-year old Roxy Music frontman on ever-stylish solo form. This smooth groove was also featured on the '9 1/2 weeks' film soundtrack.