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2011 Top 10 Albums for Grownups

Tony Bennett, Paul Simon and Barbra Streisand among our best bets

Album Cover for Allison Krauss & Union Station's album,

Alison Krauss and Union Station, Paper Airplane

Now that her flirtation with Robert Plant is out of her system, Alison Krauss has returned to the other men in her life. Paper Airplane is her first album with Union Station since 2004's Top 10 hit Lonely Runs Both Ways. The time apart has been good for them. Paper Airplane is the sound of a band that knows all of the secret places between the notes. It's a hushed album with arrangements that make you hold your breath for fear of intruding on these private moments.

What the judges say: AARP multimedia producer Steve Mencher says, "this is great music, well played, cuts to the bone on first hearing, and doesn't erode with repeated listening."

Video: Alison Krauss’ New Album Is Worth the Wait

Album cover for Wilco's

Wilco, The Whole Love

Wilco's leader Jeff Tweedy took a year off before bringing his band into the studio to record The Whole Love. The time off served him well. This album strikes the perfect balance of experimentalism (Wilco sometimes goes too far in this department) and easy charm that make Wilco one of the best American bands we've had since — well — The Band (OK, there were some Canadians in that one). Truly listenable.

What the judges say: Shawn Amos says: "Just listen to the giddiness of 'Dawned on Me' to hear a songwriter and band enjoying their prime."

Listen to Dawned on Me by Wilco...


Album cover for Yo-Yo Ma's

Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile, The Goat Rodeo Sessions

The musicians who play on The Goat Rodeo Sessions have said that their collaboration is "genre proof." That's putting it lightly. Their mixture of classical and bluegrass defies categorization. It's also impossible to ignore. Yo-Yo Ma is the biggest name on the marquee, but the other Goat Rodeo players are heavyweights in their own right. Their interplay is mind-boggling, with every part delicately balancing one another. The phrase "goat rodeo" refers to a situation in which everything needs to be right to avoid total chaos. In the hands of mere mortals, this music would have been pure chaos. However, as played by masters, a new genre is born — even if we can't name it.

What the judges say: AARP's Steve Mencher says: "God, this swings. It's edgy, modern, old, nearly perfect."

Video: Yo-Yo Ma Playing Bluegrass

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