A couple of releases I've been pleasantly surprised by over the last few months:
Riki Michele, Surround Me (rikimichele.com music)
This new disc by the former Adam Again vocalist is one of the most original releases I've heard in a long time.
It sounds nothing at all like AA or her past projects, Big Big Town or One Moment Please.
There's something very refreshing about the vocals and production; the producer is none other than Julian Kindred, who engineered most of The Choir's Grammy Award-nominated Flap Your Wings. More use is made of Riki's considerable vocal talent. This is the most forward I've ever heard her voice in the mix. The very fact that she released this herself (with a little help from her friends) is commendable. It has a big label sound on a home studio budget.
Derri Daugherty, A Few Unfinished Songs (Lo-Fidelity Records)
This disc by the Choir frontman is very understated, mostly song ideas he had been kicking around for a while. It bears very little resembelance to a Choir record; actually it sounds more like George Harrison at times (the Choir themselves covered Harrison's "Behind That Locked Door" a few years back). Very minimal production values (not overbearing, in other words) and only 5 songs in length, it gets full marks from me... still I hope to hear a full length solo release from him.