This debut album made the short-list of nominees for the U.K.'s Mercury Prize, and it deserves that level of recognition.

This debut album made the short-list of nominees for the U.K.'s Mercury Prize, and it deserves that level of recognition. Raman studied with the legendary Hindustani singer Shruti Sandolikar and has performed with the Asian underground group Joi. A consummate vocalist, she travels effortlessly between styles as diverse as Carnatic music and American folk. Raman's voice is as alluring as it is agile, and with the input of musical wiz Sam Mills, she sings against ever-shifting sonic backdrops that are inspired by a world's worth of musical ideas. From Raman's amazing cover of "Trust In Me" (from Disney's Jungle Book) to "Kamakshi"—which sounds equally indebted to Arabic, Carnatic, and ambient music—Salt Rain ranges far beyond the usual Asian categories.—PVV