9. Nicole Atkins, Mondo Amore
Mondo Amore, Nicole Atkins’ first full release since her acclaimed debut Neptune City in 2007, plays like a series of vignettes in the life of a relationship. From the first few eerie, string-led moments of “Vultures” to its spellbinding conclusion in “The Tower”, Atkins takes the listener on a journey equally suffused with hope and pain. Her breathtaking voice is as commanding as ever on “You Come to Me”, but reveals grittier, even sensual, facets on “War Is Hell” and “My Baby Don’t Lie”, which sounds like something Patsy Cline might record if she walked around with a knife in her boots. If Neptune City was an album that reminded one of times gone by, Mondo Amore is a record that fights to live in the present amid constant propositions by the ghosts of the past, and while perhaps not as immediately compelling as Atkins’ debut, the spell it casts grows stronger with each listen.