Best coffeehouse folk album for those sensitive to media overexposure (2008)

Real Life

Norah Jones, while still mad cute, lacks a certain, shall we say, edge. Feist's The Reminder is indeed tremendous—tremulous, volatile folk-pop both your mom and your tattoo-artist roommate can love—but goddamn if every paper in town hasn't all but proposed marriage in print. So for those of you desiring something soothing and elegant that still carries a hint of aggression and secrecy, acquaint yourself with Real Life, the long-gestating debut of Joan Wasser's softer side. Once the screeching violinist for (actually quite splendid) '90s alt-rock outfit the Dambuilders, she's since migrated steadily toward fluttery soft-pop that blooms wonderfully here, from the mellowly anthemic "The Ride" (she's been on it, buddy, and it never stops) to the peppy "I Defy" (a duet with otherworldly crooner Antony that's about 10,000 times as tuneful and enjoyable as his appearance on that terrible new Björk record) to the second-best song named "Eternal Flame" in history. (Bow down to the Bangles, Joan.)


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