Tom Waits

Album: Wu Lyf, Go Tell Fire to the Mountain (LYF)

After the most successful anti-PR campaign since Godspeed You Black Emperor! (interviews refused, no web presence), mystique-cloaked Mancunian collective Wu Lyf have gone legit, made a website, and even released a record.

Album: The Unthanks, Last (Rabble Rouser)

As stately and sombre as songs (mostly Trad, from the North-east of England) should probably be treated these days, the fourth album from the award-winning strings-and-sisters folksters is a thing of shivery and spooky charms.

Album: Norah Jones, The Fall (Blue Note)

Parts of Norah Jones's 2007 album Not Too Late sounded rather like a scrubbed-up, housetrained Tom Waits, so it's no surprise that for this follow-up, she enlisted the services of producer Jacquire King in an attempt to obtain the "balance between beautiful and rough" that he secured for Waits's Mule Variations.

Cursed genius: Terry Gilliam

Bad luck seems to hover over the visionary film director, but even the death of his leading actor has failed to stop his latest work

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Album: Buddy & Julie Miller, Written in Chalk (New West)

Garlanded with praise from the likes of Emmylou Harris and Don Was ("This might be the best record I've ever heard"), Written in Chalk has the nobility of old-time country music, but with a post-modern appreciation of blues, jazz and the innovations of artists such as Tom Waits and Robert Plant.

Album: Joan Baez, Day After Tomorrow (Proper)

No one does gravitas quite like JB. She does it without self-doubt. And if that great whipping silken flag of a soprano is rather diminished now (small mercies, you might say), Joan's sense of solemnity has not diminished one whit.

Album: Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, Ten Thousand (Balling the

Now touring the UK, the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir – neither a choir nor mountain men – are a Canadian quartet occupying similar roots-revivalist territory to American acts like The Boggs and Old Crow Medicine Show, attempting to disinter the dark country-blues spirit mined by the likes of Charley Patton, Robert Johnson and Son House.