The music world had something for everyone in 2006. London pop critic David Smyth directs last-minute shoppers towards the year's stand-out CDs...
With no Coldplay or James Blunt to swoon to this year, Britain's mums had to make do with the next best thing. Snow Patrol's Eyes Open (Polydor) had Gary Lightbody's tender voice, nonthreatening guitars and plenty of hummable tunes. It quietly overpowered the Arctic Monkeys hype to become 2006's biggest seller.
Close behind was James Morrison with Undiscovered (Universal) - his soul man's rasp caused numerous hearts to melt. The tasteful tones of Corinne Bailey Rae on her eponymous debut (EMI) were a dinner party feature as vital as After Eights, while the soft jazz cover versions sung by Madeleine Peyroux on Half the Perfect World (UCJ) sounded both timeless and extremely beautiful.
Those in need of something equally pretty but more substantial should be directed to Damien Rice's 9 (Heffa/14th Floor) which used pleasant acoustic guitars to express deep emotional pain. Or if she's feeling less adventurous, you could always point her to the musical gift equivalent of a mug tree: Westlife's The Love Album (RCA).
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