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Our favourite albums of 2005… so far

Lee Ann Womack, There’s More Where That Came From

Remember when country music was elegant, hooky and vibrant? Lee Ann Womack’s fifth and best album to date is all these things and more. Inspired by the earthy 70’s sounds of artists like Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, There’s More has a retro vibe, but still sounds vitally current. Womack has forwarded her country-pop sound to perfect sophistication and has also created a rare thing: an album you can listen through from beginning to end. (MCA Nashville)

The Hermit, Wonderment

On keyboardist and percussionist Hamish Thomson’s sophomore disc, he brings his touring band along to expand his electronic soundscapes. But even with all the lush textures in Wonderment, it never sounds cluttered. In fact, all the instruments have breathing room in the final mix — including piano, electric, acoustic and pedal steel guitar, banjo, live strings, and even an oil can — giving the record a cool, laid back appeal. (Nettwerk)

John Legend, Get Lifted

On Legend’s inspiring debut, he has created his own unique sound by bridging the gap between neo-soul and hip-hop. Highlights include the body movin’ title track and first single, “Used to Love U,” which showcases some of Legend’s lyrical wit. Legend also acknowledges his roots through his smooth soul voice, timeless piano and the undeniable power of a church choir on highlights “It Don’t Have To Change” and “Ordinary People.” Get Lifted is a step forward for Legend’s career, giving soul an edge that younger listeners will relate to, while still respecting what the genre stands for. (Sony)

Kylie Minogue, Ultimate Kylie

Kylie’s career retrospective is split into two discs, each representative of her different musical eras. The new songs added just for this set are stellar , too — especially the Scissor Sisters collaboration “I Believe in You.” (EMI)

The Mars Volta, Frances the Mute

The band presents a passionate mix of classic psychedelic rock, strings, squealing Bitches Brew-era jazz, ambient keyboards, scary vocal tricks, and salsa prog rock. At times, the Mars Volta can be unfocused and pretentious, but they take you on such a wild ride that you just don’t care. (Universal)

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