The Best Young, Female Musicians of 2011

I love year-end lists.  I’m always curious about what has moved other people in the last year, and reading the lists of others gives me a chance to learn about music I may have missed. 

But looking over my list of music that moved me in 2011, I was struck by one trend that may have been overlooked by best-of lists. Specifically, I noticed an unusually large amount of remarkable No Depression-like music released by younger, relatively unknown women. So I here’s my best-of list of albums released in 2011 by young female artists who are deserving of more recognition than they’ve received.

My list focuses on on lesser-known artists, so I’m not including artists like Gillian Welch, whose The Harrow and the Harvest was my personal number one of the year, or Matraca Berg, whose The Dreaming Fields was superb, but who has been in the industry for a long time.

The first three on my list were in my personal Top 10.  But the rest could, in my opinion, reasonably be in anybody’s Top 10.  It’s heartening to me that there is so much up-and-coming talent.

So, am I missing anybody?  Or am I missing the boat entirely?

1. Rachel Harrington: Celilo Falls

2. Rita Hosking: Burn

3. Abigail Washburn: City of Refuge

4. Lynn Miles: Fall For Beauty

5. Amy Speace: Land Like A Bird

6. Carrie Elkin: Call It My Garden

7. Amanda Shires: Carrying Lightning

8. Robyn Ludwick: Out of These Blues

9. Brigitte Demeyer: Rose of Jericho

10. Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers: Starlight Hotel

11. Ana Egge: Bad Blood

12. Angela Easterling: Beguiler

13. Martha Scanlan: Tongue River Stories: Autumn

14. Eilen Jewel: Queen of the Minor Key

15. Cary Ann Hearst: Lions and Lambs

16. Emma Hill and her Gentlemen Callers: Meet Me At the Moon

Views: 3084

Comment by Fred Arnold on January 10, 2012 at 2:21pm

Great list, thanks. Some really excellent candidates but I'd like to add two outstanding Canadian singer/songwriters - Catherine McLellan, whose 'Silhouette' is one of the albums of 2011, and Rose Cousins, who MUST have a new album out soon. 'The Send Off' from 2009 was verging on being a masterpiece.

Comment by Christopher Johnson on January 10, 2012 at 2:48pm

I'm always looking for new talent to play and this post has given me a lot to use, thanks.  I compiled a list of all the names added to the list and thought I'd share:

Alice Gun
Amanda Platt
Amelia Curran
Ana Egge
Ane Brun
Anna Calvi
Antje Duvekut
Ariana Gillis
Ashley Brooke Toussant
Bella Hardy
Beth Wood
Brandi Carlile
Caitlin Rose
Carter Sampson
Catherine McLellan
Chelsea Crowell
EMA
Emilie Clepper
Emily Barker
First Aid Kit (Johanna and Klara Soderberg)
Hannah Peel
Holly Pulliam
Jackie Oates
Jeniffer Haase
Jenn Grant
Jesse Sykes
Jessica Lee Mayfield
Jill Andrews
Julia Stone
Kami Thompson
Kathleen Edwards
Kelli Schaefer
Kitty Daisy & Lewis
Laura Jean
Laura Marling
Lindi Ortega
Lisa Hannigan
Lisbee Stainton
Lori McKenna
Lucy Wainwright Roche
Lydia Loveless
Madison Violet
Maggie Bjorkland
Marissa Nadler
Marybeth D'Amico
Meg Baird
Nikki Lane
Nora Jane Struthers
Oh Susanna
Pieta Brown
Rachel Brooke
Rebecca Pronsky
Rose Cousins
Rose Polenzani
Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside
Sarah Borges
Sarah Jarosz
Sierra Hull
Smoke Fairies (Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies)
Star Anna
Tara Bevins
Vanessa Peters
Wye Oak
Zee Avi

Apologies if there are any omissions or misspellings

Comment by Easy Ed on January 10, 2012 at 4:02pm

The only thing better Christopher would be a $500 Amazon gift card to go along with your list.

Comment by Jessie J on January 12, 2012 at 1:45pm

Sarah Jaffe.

Comment by Christopher Johnson on January 12, 2012 at 3:16pm

@Easy Ed, all a boy can do is dream.  

Have the Wailin' Jennys been around too long to qualify or just maybe individually for their solo outings?  What about Aiofe O'Donovan?  She's striking out on her own while Crooked Still takes a hiatus.

@David, you've created an endless loop!

Comment by Kyla Fairchild on January 12, 2012 at 8:42pm

Glad to hear First Aid Kit has a new one coming out. I love those gals. Their last CD was on my top 10 in 2010. Highly recommended.

So many talented ladies on this list. Nice to see. Thanks for compiling the comments into one list Christopher.

I just became aware of Lindi Ortega a couple days ago and she really knocked my socks off:

Comment by Frank Gutch Jr. on January 14, 2012 at 1:42pm

Did I miss it or is Zoe Muth missing?

Comment by Easy Ed on January 14, 2012 at 1:45pm

Zoe is #10 on David's original post. So yes...ya missed it.

Comment by Frank Gutch Jr. on January 14, 2012 at 1:53pm

Dang.   I must have blinked.  Sorry.

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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.