3 – John Grant – Queen Of Denmark
The former lead singer of neglected US band The Czars, John Grant was hardly a household name at the start of the year and is hardly one at the end of it, but he’s certainly made an impact with his debut solo album, even if only with critics. A hugely personal album, full of reflections of a life marred by drink, drugs and the stresses of growing up gay in the Midwest, it’s got some astonishingly beautiful and haunting songs.
4 – Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
Joanna Newsom’s voice has always made her albums ‘love it or hate it’ affairs, despite the excellent songwriting and harp-playing that make her stand out from the crowd. On this third, epic, release though, she has developed a slightly easier-on-the-ears vocal sound that doesn’t make a triple-album quite the slog I certainly feared it might be. In that respect, it’s certainly her best album and the remarkable length means that there’s plenty to explore and enjoy.