Sarah Potenza, 'Monster'
The Rhode Island native may have gotten her start on The Voice, but the roots rock and R&B of Monster proves she has way more depth than any superficial reality-TV show. The title track is an unflinchingly honest and vulnerable look at body shaming – and acceptance – with Potenza wearing her plus-size like a badass badge of honor. "Up on the Third Floor" recalls her character-building years living in a rough Chicago neighborhood with husband and guitarist Ian Crossman. And the homespun "Granddad" is full of redneck platitudes – "always carry your gun" and never buy a car "you can't sleep in," which elicited whoops at a recent Opry performance. In the standout "My Turn," Potenza asks, "When's it gonna be my turn?" The answer, it seems, is right now. J.H.