Americana Highways

Editor’s Pick: Road Trip Earworms 2022

Listen & Watch Lists & Polls

Road Trip Earworms 2022

There’s nothing like an earworm, hitting that sweet spot no matter how many times you play it. I’ve been an earworm listener since I was a kid – hitting repeat to keep that feeling going for hours.  How about you?  I hear a lot of music over the course of a year, and THIS is my go-to, road trip earworm list for this year.  Please, I invite you to follow this list (scroll down to find the actual playlist) and truly road test it on your next road trip.  All of these songs are soooooo good.  

Jason Erie “Tiny Fires.” This song is excellent and the whole album is simply amazing. I nearly couldn’t pick just one earworm from this one.  But: “Outside these walls, I hear they’re lighting tiny fires, and no one’s trying to put ’em out.” This song is perfect — in every way.

REVIEW: Jason Erie “Tiny Fires”

Jana Pochop “Quiet All the Time.” Oh Jana, this album came at just the right time last year and was beyond wonderful.  Still is. Intelligent poetic lyrics and beautiful stories and imagery.  And Jana’s voice has an indescribably memorable quality. “I spent summer on the coastline, winter in the flyover.  That water never turned to wine, the wind kept me sober, that’s why I’m quiet all the time.” 

REVIEW: Jana Pochop “The Astronaut”

Dan Navarro “Circling the Drain.” Dan Navarro has fans who don’t know it, he’s wrote so many hits. (“We Belong,” “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”). This album will make him even more real fans than the loyal ones he already has.  This song in particular is shivery good in all ways possible — the alluring music, the thoughtful lyrics, Dan’s soothing easy vocals, the pro delivery, everything. “Every minute around the world, 250 babies born, some with a silver spoon, some with a belly full of dreams.”  It’s a song about life.

REVIEW: Dan Navarro “Horizon Line”

John Fullbright “Paranoid Heart.”  There’s something right in the middle of this song that catches you and compels you to hit repeat.  From “Ain’t nothing you can say to keep the kink from my stair” to “Twist my voice until I reach the note” and beyond. Oh yeah. Listen and see what I mean.

REVIEW: John Fullbright “The Liar”

Madeleine Kelson “Joker.”  Whether it’s Madeleine’s flinty, shimmering vocals or its the song itself that pulls you in, the other part will make you leave it on repeat.  “I heard you’re still in Nashville.”  Uh huh.

REVIEW: Madeleine Kelson “While I Was Away”

Terry Klein “60 in a 75.”  This is bluesy and groovy and hot for some reason, given that it’s a song about having a panic attack.  Finally a meaningful song about slogging along, struggling, and yes, dang it, driving too slow.  But funny too. And all too real.  Thanks Terry.

REVIEW: Terry Klein “Good Luck Take Care”

Adia Victoria “In the Pines” Adia dropped a gorgeous single this year — suspenseful, dark, beautiful.  “I saw Jesus preaching at me from a sign on the side of the road, and beneath was a cross on the ground where they found you cold that night…”  Chilly.  Suspenseful.  Real.

REVEW: Adia Victoria “A Southern Gothic”

Kaitlin Butts “it won’t always be this way.”  Please, Kaitlin, tell us it’s true that it won’t always be this way.  This song is so powerful and inspirational, she’ll make you truly believe it will get better.  It won’t always be this way.  I need to hear that.

REVIEW: Kaitlin Butts “What Else Can She Do”

Sean Keel “Corn Palace.”  Where has Sean Keel been hiding?  Gritty and sorrowful, deeply sorrowful. A gem of a find this year.  

REVIEW: Sean Keel “a dry scary blue”

Matt Fockler “Dorothy.” Who’s Matt Fockler, you might ask? He’s a musician’s musician, creating aching songs, simply delivered in an authentic vocal trill.  And don’t take my word for it.  Find the music now and see. 

REVIEW: Matt Fockler self-titled

Cory Branan “O Charlene.” This one is catchy as hell, about that person from back home that we still think back on and think about meeting up with sometimes.  “It’d be nice to see you if you still get out.” 

REVIEW: Cory Branan “When I Go I Ghost”

Julian Taylor “Seeds.”   This song has one of those memorable hooky lines:  “They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds,” and it builds from there.  Check out this talented songwriter from Toronto.

Interview: Julian Taylor Starts Conversations with “Beyond the Reservoir”

Eric Ambel “It’s Heartbreak That Sells.” A Ray Mason song interpreted by Eric. It’s a dark tale of heartbreak and the viciousness of the public eye, but Ambel plays such pretty acoustic guitar it has to be repeated.   

REVIEW: Eric Ambel “You Asked For It – The Shut-In Singles Collection”

Arlo McKinley “Where You Want Me.” Arlo has created a little bit more settled songs for this year, rooted in a degree of peace. This one in particular tells a store of finding love when you’re otherwise alone and adrift. And he croons: “Now darlin’, you got me where you want me.” 

REVIEW: Arlo McKinley “This Mess We’re In”

Ryan Culwell “Wild Sometimes.”  Groove and drift through nostalgia with this one.  “I got found by a strawberry blond with the grape juice on my lips.”  Hallelujah.  We all get a little wild sometimes, Ryan, and thank you for this song that we can love while we reminisce. 

REVIEW: Ryan Culwell “Run Like A Bull”

Cahalen Morrison “This Whole Broken World.” Cahalen recorded this in a couple of days in an empty New Mexican adobe chapel.  The vocals in this a cappella song will give you chills, and recount for you a captivating story of struggle and commitment and fate through glorious imagery. Riveting.

REVIEW: Cahalen Morrison “Wealth of Sorrow”

Tiffany Williams “All Those Days of Drinking Dust.” A sweet, painful tribute to her father who grubbed on his hands and knees trying to make a better life for his family. It’ll make you cry. Tiffany’s music is the real deal.

REVIEW: Tiffany Williams “All Those Days of Drinking Dust”

Caleb Wilbourn “Out West Now.” This Texas songwriter is working out there on these songs of breathless honesty.  “I swore that I’d never cry again over some lost dreams that I let slip through my hands.” Crackling with authenticity.

Interview: Caleb Wilbourn on “Out West Now”

Allison Russell and Brandi Carlile “You’re Not Alone.”  When are songs by either of these two anything other than pure and beautiful.  This song nails everything that’s needed on a great Americana song — and oh, the harmonies.

REVIEW: Allison Russell “Outside Child”

Molly Tuttle & Billy Strings “Dooley’s Farm.”  Just so much talent and a timeless song. “They used to grow tobacco then then made moonshine, there’s something better in the back of the barn.” The banjo, the strings, the driving rhythm and the build up.  Fantastic. 

REVIEW: Molly Tuttle “Crooked Tree”

Dr. John “Holy Water.”  Oh the sexy bluesy grooves on this one. “Have mercy on me in my hour of need, holy water, here I go, godspeed.”   This is a solid exanple of an Americana music lover’s blues song.

REVIEW: Dr. John “Things Happen That Way”

And one song not on the playlist because it’s not available that way:

Rod Picott “Dirty T-Shirt.” This song is exciting and H.O.T. But is really a love song. Anguished and breathless and loving and just great.  You’ll have to find it somewhere yourself. The album is here:

REVIEW: Rod Picott “Paper Hearts and Broken Arrows”



Leave a Reply!