Favorite Albums of 2022 — Editor’s Pick
What defines a favorite album? When you’re several songs in and still groovin’, or thinking, or turning it up to listen closer? Lots of albums have that one great song, or two, or three￼￼. But you’ll want to play every one of these albums from start to finish and then listen all over again. Trust me. Here’s my top 11 this year. Have fun digging in! There’s a playlist at the bottom too. For my Road Trip Earworms list this year, check here; Editor’s Pick: Road Trip Earworms 2022
1) Jason Erie Tiny Fires. When you’re nine songs in and your mind is still blown, and then it still keeps going until the last song on the album has you in tears, you’re in the presence of greatness. Put it on repeat, get a copy for your best musical friend. Songs about the darker side of growing up in America, including a “home is just an empty husk full of dreams that never were,” and “even God’s been shopping on “Amazon.” Fantastic.
2) Dan Navarro Horizon Line. This entire album is full bodied, classy songwriting that still hits the authentic heart of longing, recognitions of hard truths and sweet, sweet sorrows. Circling the drain (of life), a pushback song on holding steady in a dramatic relationship, and driving out toward that “Horizon Line.” Just keep going.
3) Brian Blake Book of Life Releasing an album later in the year, Brian Blake honors Texas country roots, rice fields, deaths, comforting a small child when his Daddy left – “just another page in the book of life.” You’ll cry. It’s lovely and it hurts and it’s just so good.
4) Jana Pochop The Astronaut There’s a heady, dreamlike thoughtfulness running through every song on this album. It’s reflective and moody, considering time, spaces, places, broken down cars, and “if I speak Spanish to you when I’m drunk, it means that I’m happy to be here.”
5) Ryan Culwell Run Like A Bull. Running the roads inside his head, asking which way will the wind carry him, this album is a searcher’s record that has true highs and lows. Dive down into the reflective songs of sorrow and then rise up and kick them away with rock n roll catharsis. And love all of it.
6) Terry Klein Good Luck, Take Care Texas songwriter musician Terry Klein put this one out on the earlier side of this year and it’s solid, thoughtful, and includes anxiety, needing an SSRI, the questions kids ask that stop you cold, and more. “It’s no so much the bitter tears, but the salt they leave behind. But I’ll be fine.” Oh, and a song about Dick Trickle.
7) Sean Keel a dry scary blue Here’s a discovery maybe you haven’t heard of yet. Check it out for an album when you have the time to really listen and go for a walk with someone down life’s pathways. Have you ever seen the signs for the corn palace in South Dakota on a cross country road trip? That’s in here. And that’s just the beginning.
8) Madeleine Kelson While I Was Away. Again, you’ll be 7 songs in, of one good song after another, and still finding another favorite. Songs of growing up, family, and friendships and other connections that we’ve moved beyond. Cool guitar solos too.
9) Julian Taylor Beyond the Reservoir. You will think. You will nod your head in agreement. You’ll enjoy the conversational style of these songs. Turns of phrase in Julian’s songwriting will take your breath away, like “they tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds,” and “outliers can’t stand, we need a crutch,” and “I’m wide awake, I chalk it up to all of my mistakes.”
10) Matt Fockler self-titled Quavery honest vocals, songs that get better with each replay and bright guitar tones. Stand up on the “could be” of dreams, songs about Lakota Sioux, and criss crossing the country for “I wear the sandals or the boots, and take a good look at your roots.” Haven’t heard of Matt Fockler? I insist. Check his album out.
11) Kaitlin Butts What Else Can She Do? The opening song on the album sets the stage: a mother promising her child things will get better. The album spins songs of longing for a better life, empty promises, burned bridges, abuse, leaving the country, hoping to make it in the city and working your tail off to make a better life, wherever she lands.