Remember when "singer-songwriter" was a term that evoked an image of a troubadour with an acoustic guitar or maybe a piano, singing a diary's worth of personal confessions in a folksy style? Well, shove those diaries back under the bed and save the introspective drama for your mama -- or your therapist. Today's hottest singer-songwriters are making their names by straddling a whole bunch of genres: pop, of course, but also soul, country, maybe a little jazz and a little salty rock 'n' roll -- much of it given a dusty, vintage glow and all of it pumping with a more operatic drama. Call it the Adele Effect. Artists like ZZ Ward, Haim, Emeli Sande, Laura Mvula, Valerie June and Serena Ryder refuse to be pinned down to just one genre -- and wow, does that ambiguity sound so authentically awesome.
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