My tops for 2007- Albums

Raising Sand
by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

He brings the arena rock, she brings the integrity. Is it mutual exploitation? Yes 100%. But it's also a lovely little mixture in which two voices flirt and harmonize over a set of should have been classics. The moments when Krauss abandons her precision soprano and lets loose are breathtaking, but it's Plant, toned down to a delicate mountain strum, who's the real surprise. An amazing experiment by producer T-Bone Burnett who deserves a lot of credit for making all the right instrument choices and then shaking his record collection for obscurities and all together they make them so good they make you wonder why they were ever obscure.

In Rainbows
by Radiohead

The most surprising thing about Radiohead's seventh album turned out to be neither the method of distribution (email) nor the suggested retail price (whatever you want) but the fact that when the thing finally materialized... it speaks elegance! Alright, it's not quite that classy as Coldplay, but having gone as far as experimentation and paranoia could take them; Thom Yorke and company started over, sharpened their melodies and let their warmest emotions run free. With its faint vocals and rising strings Nude could be filed under R&B, while All I Need resolves with a series of contented sighs. Even the spooky, starting Videotape ends with the life affirming lyric "today has been/ The most perfect day I've ever seen." Factor in that they still pack more density into their tracks than any rock band on earth, and In Rainbows was well worth whatever you paid for it.

by Kanye West

West isn't the first celebrity to worry that fame has made him dull, but he is the first to settle the matter by contemplating about it for the entirety of an album. Thin as Graduation is on material, it delivers knockout hooks at a Louis Vuitton price point. From Elton John to Daft Punk to Steely Dan, West plunders the best and meticulously layers every track with enough surprises that there are thrills and discoveries a dozen listens in. He may be in danger of running out of things to say, but his ears are only getting sharper.

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