As the '70s came to a close, the first wave of singer/songwriters had dispersed into soft rock (James Taylor), more experimental avenues (Joni Mitchell), or straight-ahead mainstream pop (Carole King, Paul Simon) and rock (Jackson Browne). Apart from the occasional appearance of an artist who showed some influence from the classic singer/songwriter era, such as Joan Armatrading or Rickie Lee Jones, and a stream of "new" Dylans like Steve Forbert and Loudon Wainwright, there was no large audience for singer/songwriters. In the late '80s though, a new crop of singer/songwriters emerged that recalled the introspection and intimacy of the classic singer/songwriter era but added some modern pop production techniques. Heralded by the success of Suzanne Vega's 1988 hit "Luka," many female artists (Tracy Chapman, Michelle Shocked, Shawn Colvin, Edie Brickell, and the Indigo Girls to name a few) used a similar blend of folk, pop and solid songcraft to follow Vega to the charts. The style remained popular as many male artists such as Luka Bloom and Freedy Johnston found success using a similar formula. The high point of the style's popularity was the late '90s, as the huge success of Sarah McLachlan's singer/writer-oriented Lilith Fair showed. It remained a very viable sound into the mid-2000s.
Other Styles in Singer/Songwriter