Joan Armatrading's rich voice, with its island lilt, is a most expressive instrument. Armatrading made her mark with her self-titled 1976 album, which featured everything from lighthearted, literate love songs to intimate confessions of near-religious beauty. The talent she displayed on that record ensured that Ms. Armatrading would have a busy career as a recording artist. In the '80s she explored a wide spectrum of styles that ranged from acoustic to straight-ahead rock. In the '90s, a new generation of independent female artists have acknowledged a debt to Ms. Armatrading by covering her songs.