Every generation needs its poets and here's the 23 musical scribes who define 2010.

Meanwhile, you can vote for the best lyricists ever here.

Words: Emily Mackay, Matt Wilkinson, Barry Nicolson, Mark Beaumont, Laura Snapes, Dan Martin, Sam Wolfson, Martin Robinson, Jaimie Hodgson


Psych-folk’s most literary and learned word-spinner, the 28-year-old Californian does love to harp on

A true wordsmith, Newsom treats words like a gem collector, examining them through a spyglass for cut and colour, before fixing them in filigreed settings.

‘Bridges And Balloons’, the first track on her debut, harboured treasures such as ‘caravel’, ‘lateen’ and ‘dirigibles’. All open to cries of ‘pretentious’ from people who don’t really understand what those words mean. But Joanna pretends to nothing. Only a real word-wrangler could have penned the brilliantly funny study of insecurity, frustration and writer’s block that is ‘Inflammatory Writ’.

Not merely technical, she’s a mistress of melancholy. ‘Emily’, ‘Ys’’ many-coloured tribute to her astrophysicist sister, finds furious wordplay (‘hydrocephalic’ – 72 points!) giving way to Joanna “dumbstruck with the sweetness of being”, while ‘On A Good Day’ and ‘Baby Birch’ on her latest, ‘Have One On Me’, explore maternal loss with unflinchingly subtle power. EM

Key lyric: “And the meteorite’s just what causes the light/And the meteor’s how it’s perceived/And the meteoroid’s a bone thrown from the void that lies in quiet offering to thee”
(‘Emily’, from ‘Ys’, 2008)


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