Lydia Brownfield is an acoustic singer-songwriter. Her album "A Horse Named Yankee" is available at local record stores.

PJ Harvey,"Dry"

My life seems to revolve around the theme "odd and strangely beautiful," andPJ Harvey's music is that for me.Her lyrics and vocals come from a place I hadn't yet explored at the time. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of singing about the things most people never dared whisper, and singing them in ways a voice never dared exude. It's hopeless deprivation with sprinkles of abject joy.

Ray Charles, "The Great Ray Charles"

Everything great about music, all at once. The soulful brilliance of his writing and vocals is mesmerizing. His music, for me, is like taking a slow car ride south at night with God whispering in my ear - what a beautiful ride. His voice gives me a sweet sense of hope and an old comfortable pain in my heart.

The Smiths, "Meat Is Murder"

It took me a year to like this album. A friend gave it to me and I hated it. I didn't understand this sound at all. My friend said, even if you hate it, just keep listening. After growing up listening to my brother's Queen, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, this was quite a departure. Finally, the light went on. This album flipped the switch for me. I shudder to think what my life would be like today without them.

X, "Under the Big Black Sun"

Once again visiting my essential theme of "odd and strangely beautiful," X frontwoman Exene Cervanka created these harmonies unlike anything I had ever heard. At first it actually almost hurt to listen to, but it's transfixing after you give it a chance. This album turned my entire life upside down. After that, I was all about punk. If I could have been Nancy from "Sid and Nancy" at some point, I probably would have taken it, even knowing the outcome. One write-up of an early band I had in Atlanta said I had "screeching bird-like vocals." A big thank-you to Exene!

Everything But the Girl, "Everything But the Girl"

This was the album that started it all for me. Tracey Thorn's voice is unpolished and oddly beautiful. I felt that my voice and hers shared similar qualities, and it was because of this album that I started singing.Their early music was quiet and slow, and it really inspired me to write songs. Tracy gave me the confidence to sing and play them out live.