The songwriter and singer behind a recondite, semi-Americana outfit called the Half-Knots, Danny Kathriner is a dark horse of a different shade. He never sang in his previous band, the Rockhouse Ramblers, and he never fully cut loose with the semi-retired alt-country band Wagon. If you've never heard him, it's in part because he tends his music with a modesty that borders on embarrassment. But with a slight vibrato, a round, melancholy timbre and a full-throated range that belies his subtle phrasing, Kathriner can cut into your heart and then softly seal the wound -- although not before letting in all the sweet relief of his voice.
Readers' Choice: Nelly