NPR Music's Top 10 Albums Of September Brittany Howard formed her own true sound, The Highwomen honored country music's history and DaBaby jam-packed KIRK with diamond-grilled, Cheshire Cat finesse.
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NPR Music's Top 10 Albums Of September

Brittany Howard's solo debut Jaime appears on NPR Music's best 10 albums of September. Danny Clinch/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Danny Clinch/Courtesy of the artist

September saw solo debut albums from women who have helped redefine their respective scenes: Brittany Howard's genre-agonistic (but wholly Brittany Howard) Jaime and The Highwomen's self-titled shot across country music's bow, featuring Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby. But we also heard stylistic about-faces from Jenny Hval and Sturgill Simpson, both restless artists who love to provoke.

Below you'll find an alphabetized list of NPR Music's top 10 albums of September 2019. Be sure to check out our top 20 songs from the month as well.

NPR Music's Top 10 Albums Of September

  • Brittany Howard, 'Jaime'

    Brittany Howard - Jaime

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON /BANDCAMP

    Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard forms her own true sound, touching down in jazz (where she meets prime collaborator Robert Glasper) and blues and satin-suited soul and hip-hop, but floating beyond anyone's definition. The sound suits her very American story of reckoning with past burdens while heading straight for a bigger dream. — Ann Powers

  • DaBaby, 'KIRK'

    DaBaby, KIRK
    Courtesy of the artist

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    DaBaby's second album of 2019 is jam-packed with diamond-grilled, Cheshire Cat finesse. Feature-filled tracks "POP STAR" and "GOSPEL" strike triumphant chords, but it's the songs where DaBaby vents about reality — losing his father just as he gains Billboard success, juggling fatherhood himself — that peel back his persona and make you root for him more. — Sidney Madden

  • Daymé Arocena, 'Sonocardiogram'

    Dayme Arocena, Sonocardiogram
    Courtesy of the artist

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON / BANDCAMP

    Daymé Arocena's voice is the perfect combination of Aretha Franklin and Celia Cruz. On the Cuban singer's second solo album, that voice is now even more refined and nuanced on a collection of songs that showcases her devotion to Santería. — Felix Contreras

  • Guillermo Klein y Los Guachos, 'Cristal'

    Guillermo Klein, Los Guachos Cristal

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / AMAZON / BANDCAMP

    Pianist-composer Guillermo Klein merges clockwork intricacy with guileless emotion in Los Guachos, a band stocked with aces like guitarist Ben Monder and alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón. On Cristal, they embrace Klein's kaleidoscopic take on the tangos he grew up with in Argentina — music charged with deep feeling and deceptive formality. — Nate Chinen, WBGO

  • The Highwomen, 'The Highwomen'

    The Highwomen, 'The Highwomen'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Come for the barn-storming supergroup joyfully crashing through country music's glass ceiling. But stay for the songs, which honor the genre's history — Loretta's kitchen-table truths, Dolly's crossover dreams, honky-tonk weepers and '80s-ladies pop — while telling stories that take what they can from its truisms about gender, family and freedom, and then move into far more resonant truths. — Ann Powers

  • Igor Levit, 'Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas'

    Igor Levit - Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Although Beethoven's career-spanning cycle of 32 piano sonatas is more than 200 years old, the music, in the hands of the 32-year-old Russian-born pianist, sounds like the future, mixing pathos, humor and violence. Igor Levit's pearlescent tone and breakneck speeds remind us that Beethoven's sonatas, even at their most mysteriously beautiful, are still dangerous listening. — Tom Huizenga

  • Jenny Hval, 'The Practice of Love'

    Jenny Hval - The Practice of Love

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON / BANDCAMP

    The Practice of Love contains some of the Norwegian artist's most accessible songwriting, but probes some of life's most complicated questions about identity, meaning and belonging. With trance-like beats, washy synths and a community of collaborators, Jenny Hval helps us ponder the album's central question: What does it really look like to care for each other? — Marissa Lorusso

  • JPEGMAFIA, 'All My Heroes Are Cornballs'

    JPEGMAFIA - All My Heroes Are Cornballs

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON / BANDCAMP

    Remember that glorious food fight in Hook? JPEGMAFIA makes a neon-freaked feast blasted in slow mo and fast forward all at once. The Baltimore rapper/singer not only leans into his own bonkers production — beats warp to underground levels and mist pink vapor without a moment's notice — but wraps his elastic voice around the explosion. Bangarang. — Lars Gotrich

  • (Sandy) Alex G, 'House of Sugar'

    (Sandy) Alex G, 'House of Sugar'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON / BANDCAMP

    Much of (Sandy) Alex G's prodigious output mines similar territory: off-kilter character studies, sturdy strummed indie rock, glitchy electronics. House of Sugar digs deeper, exposing ever-more inroads to his intuitive and unique pastiche. It is at times earnest and intimate, at others freaky and experimental; most often and most impressively, all of the above at once. — Marissa Lorusso

  • Sturgill Simpson, 'Sound & Fury'

    Sturgill Simpson - Sound & Fury

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Sturgill Simpson makes All-American music, and on his fourth album, that means garage metal happily infected by hip-hop, soaked in California sunshine and lit on fire by the blues. The man once dubbed country's savior goes full metal jacket on this wild reimagination of Southern rock inspired by the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa and his own lifetime exploration of rugged individualism. — Ann Powers