Clear Blue Sky (Explicit)
Label: Kid Ina Corner (Skylar Grey)/Shady Records
Skylar Grey has guested on and co-written so many pop hits that both her silvery voice and her windswept, hip-hop-laced pop style already feel familiar on her debut. Her "regular" folksy themes help, from jealousy to unexpected pregnancy ("sh*t, man") to a LOT of relationship drama. (To put it another way: "White Suburban" has multiple meanings.) But Grey is also doing some interesting stuff with her comfy pop style. See the dark, twisty beat on the deceptively wholesome "C'Mon Let Me Ride" or the theremin (!) on the first track -- and the way Grey's nuanced vocals deftly glue it all together.