I was watching Conan O'Brien last night and saw Nicole Atkins perform a song. I honestly can't remember which one it was, and the show's web site is lacking updates (another victim of the writer's strike?), but after listening to her album Neptune City this morning, I can highly recommend it. She's got an incredibly rich alto voice and the production is top notch with full orchestras and choirs and such which seems rather odd but wonderful for someone who sounds more like an indie artist than another product of the mainstream studios.
Another standout in the singer/songwriter category is Sara Bareillis and her album Little Voice. You've probably heard her single "Love Song" on the radio, and the rest of the album is just as good.
One more interesting song caught my attention this morning: "Don't You Evah" by the band "Spoon". (Edit: I had mistakenly called the band "The Spoons". Oops.) I have yet to check out the album but this single definitely has a cool vibe.
Also, if you aren't already subscribed to some kind of music service that lets you try all of these wonderful new artists, you are seriously missing out. iTunes is so yesterday (at the risk of sounding 13), so get yourself a Rhapsody subscription or something similar. I foresee the future of music where people pay to listen without buying music. If that seems backwards to you, then open your mind. I pay $12 a month to listen to anything I want (with a few notable exceptions, like the Beatles) and there's even options to take your subscribed music with you and of course you can still buy music if you really gotta keep it. But the freedom to try new music cannot be understated - it's opened new musical horizons for me. Things I wouldn't have tried before simply because of cost, I've been able to listen to without hesitation. Another bonus for me has been going back and getting my musical education. Ever hear people describe certain bands and songs as being part of the fabric of rock and roll and our pop culture? But can you really afford to go out and buy dozens of albums from past decades to catch up on what you've missed? Why buy when you can have that whole library at your disposal? Go sign up at www.rhapsody.com already.