A year or so ago, Amy, Dana and I played one of our elimination games to determine the best female singer-songwriter. The final matchup paired Joni Mitchell (carried there by Amy and Dana’s joint support) against Aimee Mann. Mann was a surprise finalist, not as high-profile as many of the women she bested and I was thrilled to give her my vote (though, sadly, she lost).
For my money, the pinnacle of songwriting and performing talent among the fairer sex is represented by Lucinda Williams, Fiona Apple and Aimee Mann. Tift Merritt has recently made a strong surge into that group as well, and her music is a nice complement to the variety of styles represented by that trio.