16. Lori McKenna, 'Numbered Doors'
Master-craft songwriting without the radio-bait production that defines (and defaces) so much Nashville product — just some acoustic guitars, a pair of tartly harmonizing voices, and a lot of heartbreaking stories. McKenna has penned hits for Hunter Hayes ("I Want Crazy"), Little Big Town ("Your Side of The Bed"), Faith Hill ("Stealing Kisses") and other major acts. But here, with partner Mark Erelli, she's made her best LP simply by conjuring a perfect set at the Bluebird Café. Big box acts may turn some of these songs into plump publishing checks for McKenna, yet it's hard to imagine any of them sounding better than they do here. W.H.