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Sheryl Crow "Feels Like Home" (Warner Bros)

Album: Hiss Golden Messenger, Bad Debt (Blackmaps)

Minor new talent alert! "Minor" only in the sense that MC Taylor's Hiss Golden Messenger project is unlikely to figure in any of those "ones to watch in 2011" lists.

Album: Giant Sand, Blurry Blue Mountain (Fire)

Slouching into his 50s, Giant Sand songwriter Howe Gelb sounds a tad circumspect about life in general on Blurry Blue Mountain.

State Fair, Trafalgar Studios 2, London

State Fair was the only musical that Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein composed specifically for the movies.

Album: The Climbers, The Good Ship (Willkommen Records)

Although the Climbers predate the Leisure Society (with whom they share musicians Christian Hardy and Nick Hemming), if you're going to take six years to make a record – as songwriter Tim West has – you're going to pay the price.

Album: Carole King & James Taylor, Live At The Troubadour (Hear Music)

Back in 1970, Carole King and James Taylor made their debut appearance together at Los Angeles' famed haunt, The Troubadour, as respected songwriters but unproven performers.

Album: Stornaway, Beachcomber's Windowsill (4AD)

There's an air of suspension about the eleven songs on Stornoway's debut, perhaps indicative of a band perched on the cusp of studenthood and real life.

Free downloads: Communion compilation album

The nu-folk scene that has blossomed in recent years in London and around the country has been built on like-minded musicians supporting each other and putting on gigs together. Nothing typifies this better than musical collective Communion, formed by members of Mumford and Sons amongst others, which has now started a record label, the fruits of which are made available exclusively by the Independent below.

Album: Vinicio Capossela, The Story-Faced Man (Nonesuch)

Do we really need an Italian Tom Waits?

Album: Julian Casablancas, Phrazes for the Young (Rough Trade)

On 2006's First Impressions Of Earth, Julian Casablancas seemed in terminal retreat from his muse, apparently bent on bringing The Strokes' waning momentum to a halt.

Album: Mark Eitzel, Klamath, (Decor Records)

Since Rolling Stone proclaimed him songwriter of the year in 1991, Eitzel ("the American Morrissey") has done his level best to live up to such praise and, mostly (and characteristically), he's failed.

Waterson Family & The Eliza Carthy Band, Royal Festival Hall, London

The family that plays together...

Best served cold: A lyrical revenge

Radiohead’s rather odd tribute to The Last Tommy, Harry Patch, while laudable is a little out of kilter with the natural inclination of songwriters to write about their love lives. And the songwriters art is never sharper than when writing about the bitterness of love. Katy Guest looks at the best example of the genre of revenge.

Union Chapel to host Willkommen Collective's coming-out party

Willkommen Collective, a loose community of folk-centric young bands based in Brighton, launched a record label last year and next Friday, it's hosting a coming-out party at the Union Chapel in Islington, London.

Reckless Amy: The greatest songwriter you've never heard of

'Heroin addicts, ex-cons, married men...' Amy Rigby has always based her darkly funny tales of love-gone-wrong on her own life. So how did the 'greatest modern songwriter you've never heard of' find herself living in the middle of nowhere with a former punk-rocker called Wreckless Eric?
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