Free from the label system, Paula Cole made a vibrant return this year with her independent release, Raven. "Billy Joe," a blues-style ode to being on the road, encapsulates what is so great about the album as whole: it's confessional and passionate, brought to life with an Americana-flavored setting. The track is particularly remarkable because Cole sounds better than ever, and she has chosen to color the arrangement with just enough backing (guitar, percussion, supporting vocals) to breathe life into the song without suffocating the lyrics and her performance. In fact, the song feels reminiscent of the best singer/songwriter music from the 70s, which favored warm soundscapes that gave performers space to move. Six albums in, Paula Cole remains an impeccable musician and producer.