Bob Boilen

An American treasure came to the Tiny Desk and even premiered a new song. John Prine is a truly legendary songwriter. For more than 45 years the 71-year-old artist has written some of the most powerful lyrics in the American music canon, including "Sam Stone," "Angel From Montgomery," "Hello In There" and countless others.

ALA.NI's voice is as much a vibe as a conveyer of ideas, of words and thought. For me, it's evocative of love and heart. This video and the song ALA.NI sings illustrates my point. But I'll let ALA.NI tell more in the magnificent note she wrote to me. She has a lot to get out and is obviously passionate about it:

"The message that I wished to convey in the making of this video is...

"LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE.

"Take it where you can get it, cause lord knows we need as much of it right now in this mad, mad world.

When I listened blindly to nearly a thousand songs while attempting to make my schedule of bands to see at this year's SXSW music festival, one of the few tracks that leapt to the top was "Arizona" by Frances Cone. I wasn't alone. NPR Music's Stephen Thompson also singled out this now Brooklyn-based band for the way it wraps its storytelling in a catchy, pop parcel.

NOTE: Each day this week we'll be rolling out a series of videos from Sylvan Esso that comprise the duo's upcoming visual EP, Echo Mountain Sessions.

We watched more than 6,000 videos. Ten judges weighed in. Now, the 2017 Tiny Desk Contest has a winner.

After spending time with Christopher Paul Stelling's third album, Labor Against Waste, I expected a certain intensity to his performance. But I didn't expect him to nearly implode behind my desk, as the fierceness of his heartfelt songs was set against deft fingerpicking on his beat-to-hell '64 Gibson gut-string classical guitar. That guitar, bought in Asheville, looks like a well-worn friend, with its dark bruised wood and his initials hand-carved into its body.

This week marks the mid-point of 2015, and the All Songs Considered team is ready to take stock. On this week's show, we share our favorite music from debut albums released in the first half of this year. It's only June, but we picked the music we're already eyeing for our year-end lists in December.

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