10 Great Album Covers, Chosen by Musician Lori Triplett

Gregory Alan Isakov, Tori Amos, Paul Williams and more

When I was a kid, I loved looking through my dad's vinyl collection, which now plays on my own record player. I loved looking at the photos, the liner notes, the lyrics, and loved the way it felt in my hands. I loved the crackle of the album while it played and used to be mesmerized watching it spin around under the needle. (I also got in trouble for messing with the needle when I was really young, not knowing how a record player really worked.) I dreamt of having my own music on vinyl one day.

Then, of course, my generation switched to tapes and CDs, and even though I didn't think those were as cool as my dad's vinyl collection, I still got the same rush when I'd get a new tape or CD, tear open the polywrap, and crack open the plastic jewel case for the first time to read the lyrics while the song played. I can still remember doing that with the first CD I ever bought myself with the change from my school lunch money I'd saved up—No Need to Argue by The Cranberries. I loved going to the local music store, On-Cue, where my oldest sister worked, and looking through shelves and shelves of albums and sheet music. And because she got a discount for working there, she always had a killer CD collection that introduced me to some of my favorite artists to this day.

Some of those albums made my list—maybe more so because I'm so attached to the songs on them. Maybe you'll agree with me on some of these and maybe you won't, but I think we can all agree on one thing: album covers have the ability to draw you in just as much as the music does. Here are some of my top picks!

Patty Griffin
Silver Bell (2013)

Do I really have to explain why I love this album cover? It's stunning and so visually interesting. I'm a huge fan of the cover art you can find on old sheet music from the early 1900s, especially around 1910 through the 1920s. I have a ton of it framed and hanging on the walls around my house, especially where I write music. There's always something ethereal about it, and this cover totally captures that same style and feeling for me. Maybe when I stop listening long enough to all her other gorgeous albums like 1000 Kisses, Impossible Dream and Flaming Red, I'll finally give this album the attention it deserves.

Carole King
Tapestry (1971)

I've always been drawn to this album cover, and I know that's the case for a lot of people. It's the lighting, the shadows, the colors, the mood of it. It's disarming and inviting. It's sort of like Carole King's songwriting, especially on this album, the songs are so naturally beautiful. They don't need a lot of production around them to make them strong and moving, and this album cover is much the same for me.

Regina Spektor
What We Saw from the Cheap Seats (2012)

I love how bright, clear, and bold this album cover is. It's a great album title, and the font and font placement is such a perfect pair with her hat and style. This cover introduced me to Regina's music, and I definitely gave it a listen just because the cover drew me in.  

Paul Williams
Ordinary Fool (1975)

I grew up listening to a lot of Paul Williams thanks to my dad. Some of his songs, like "Nice to Be Around" and "Rainbow Connection" (Kermit's version, of course), were staples of my childhood soundtrack. This album is now in my own vinyl collection, and I love the colors, the artwork and lightness of this cover. It's a little quirky and interesting, but then when you look closely at his expression in the artwork, you get the feeling he's lost deep in his thoughts. And that makes me want to put on the record and hear what he's thinking about.

Gregory Alan Isakov
The Weatherman (2013)

I love everything about this one. The font, the photo, the feel. It's the perfect image for this record and Isakov's sound. I absolutely love all things antique and vintage, so this naturally appealed to me, and I admittedly listened to this album just because of the cover. I wasn't disappointed.

Brooke Waggoner
Fresh Pair of Eyes (2007)

While it’s technically an EP, I've loved this cover since I first saw it back around 2007. If you know Brooke's music, it's so perfectly her. It's unique, colorful, eccentric, and has a bit of an innocence to it, too. I'm in love with the color combination and the phonograph head, too. I recently found out that my friend who does my own album art designed this, and that made me laugh. I love when things like that happen.  

The Mamas and the Papas
Farewell to the First Golden Era (1967)

When I see this album cover, I just wanna hop on that bus and go back in time to the 1960s. Cass Elliot's powerhouse vocals and this tracklist are some of my all-time, feel-good favorites. I just love the playfulness of this album cover, the fonts and placement, and the photo.  

Tori Amos
Little Earthquakes (1991)

I haven't stopped listening to this album since I first heard it back around 1999 when one of my best friends casually showed me the song, "China." I was speechless at how gorgeous her voice and music were. I love this cover because Tori is a force to be reckoned with—if you've ever seen her perform, you know this to be true. I almost feel like her not fitting in the box she's in is symbolic of her music and style. You can't fit Tori into a box—she's completely unique and has a style all her own. And her name being big and bold on the cover helps illustrate that as well. She is who she is. It was a tough choice between this one and her Boys for Pele album cover, but either way, I love me some Tori and always love her album covers, too.  

Simon & Garfunkel
Sounds of Silence (1966)

This album cover makes me want to take a train ride through the mountains and hide away for a week in a cozy cabin with my guitar and a good book. It's almost like they are inviting you to follow them down the path they're walking. I just think it's a great photo that compliments their style really nicely.  

Sierra Ferrell
Long Time Coming (2021)

First of all, Sierra is gorgeous—her hair, this hat, her top, her style. I love it all. But then add those florals, a throwback font and vibe, and it's a deadly combination. I'm in love with this album cover and knew immediately I'd like her sound, too.

Art of the Album is a regular feature looking at the craft of album-cover design. If you'd like to write for the series, or learn more about our Clio Music program, please get in touch.

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Lori Triplett
Lori Triplett is a Nashville-based singer-songwriter. Her latest album, When the Morning Comes, was released in March.

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