Style: Bluesy, meditative, country-rock; compare to Patty Griffin, Bob Dylan, Shawn Colvin
Top tracks: "I Don't Know How You're Livin,'" "Blessed," "Born to be Loved"
Williams' albums have traditionally addressed relational dysfunction with clinical precision; her last one, 2008's Little Honey, used broad strokes to paint a picture of a ravishing new romance. Blessed is more of a big-picture album and her most balanced set since 2003's World Without Tears. She rages against an ex-lover but saves her angriest, most resentful words for "Seeing Black," a tirade against a friend who took his own life. She laments another loss in "Copenhagen," but the title song finds comfort in steadfast love and everyday miracles. The album is all about perspective—about hard-won wisdom that reminds us that life itself is a blessing, even in dark times. Don Was' production compliments her sharpest songs in a while, but the finest touch is Elvis Costello's axe-shredding on "Seeing Black."1