Americana UK’s top albums of 2022 – the rest of the best

Over the last few days we’ve been counting down our top 10 albums of 2022 which concluded yesterday with Bonny Light Horseman and The Delines holding our top two places. In the process of coming up with this list, AUK writers chose their albums of the year, and because we are a fairly chunky team, not every nomination made the final ten. Here are the rest of the best albums from the past 12 months.

Arlo McKinley “This Mess We’re In” – Cincinnati, Ohio native Arlo McKinley faced down post-pandemic upheaval with this melancholy but hopeful set of melodic, largely acoustic country songs. With the world-weary voice of a battered heart, this hugely talented songwriter marked himself out as a definite ‘one to watch’ on this accomplished album.’ (PG)

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Bill Scorzari “The Crosswinds of Kansas” – Bill Scorzari is a New York singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, and ‘The Crosswinds Of Kansas’ is his fourth independently released album.  The simple use of imagery and clever phraseology make it a very poignant record at times, with lines such as ‘its the Joyful memories that give you the most pain’ being thought-provoking. The pain on some tracks is visceral in its honesty – and Scorzari’s voice is the perfect match for these substantial songs. Perhaps ‘The Cross Winds Of Kansas’ will blow far more attention his way. He richly deserves it. (RT/MW)

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Honey Harper and the Infinite Sky “Honey Harper and the Infinite Sky” – This is an album that totally embraces all kinds of country traditions but is embellished with experimental sounds and significant pop influences, It relies heavily on the magical lyrical input from wordsmith Alana Pabgnutti and the wonderful voice of William Fussell, plus a handpicked group of superb backing players. Cosmic country of the highest order. (FA)

John Fullbright “The Liar” – The third solo album from the ex-Turnpike Troubadour deserves to be album of the year for the title track alone, but every track on the album is a gem that gets better with each listening. A record full of wit and wisdom… Americana is sometimes guilty of taking itself far too seriously, and it’s good to have an album that reminds you it’s possible to listen to this music and have a good time. The power of collaboration is a mighty one indeed. (RB)

Kevin Morby “This Is A Photograph” – Kevin Morby’s seventh album, recorded whilst he was holed up in the historic Peabody Hotel in Memphis, is a reflection on the passing of time, life and how we spend our time before we shuffle off this mortal coil. Maybe it was planned or maybe it was fate that this album was released almost 25 years to the day that Jeff Buckley tragically drowned in the Mississippi River at Memphis, whilst awaiting the arrival of his band from New York. Whatever the case, this album is equal to Buckley’s best work and hopefully these thoughtful and beautiful songs will get the same recognition. It’s a beautiful record which will still sound great 100 years from now. (DL)

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Megan Bee “Cottonwood” – Great albums take you through music and words to another place, lift your mood even on the darkest of days, and the memory lingers long after the last track has finished.  So it was for me with Megan Bees’ ‘Cottonwood’.  It is a light joyful work that takes you straight to her world where the beauty of nature butts up against those everyday travails of first loves, pushy blokes and dangerous dates.  A real joy from a self-supported independent singer/songwriter. (IK)

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Morton Valence “Morton Valence” – This self-titled record from Valence is a very thoughtful album full of interesting imagery using London as a backdrop in a similar way to Ray Davies did. It is beautifully produced with a wonderful pedal steel guitar underlining many tracks. It’s just such an atmospheric, intelligent record. British Urban Country at its very best. (RT)

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Old Sea Brigade “5am Paradise” – Ben Cramer’s latest album as Old Sea Brigade is just gorgeous – a collection of quite challenging but always warm tunes. In many ways it’s a nostalgic look back at life in your twenties, when the after-effects of the night before are recovered from quickly and the possibilities appear to be endless. It’s also a record about becoming older and hopefully wiser, accepting that life isn’t perfect and that there are always some things in the past which could have been done differently. From the fantastic title track to my personal highlight ‘Monochrome’, Cramer’s songwriting is building solidly and this is just masterful in every way. (PR)

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Only Child “Straight Lines” – I have complete admiration for Alan O’Hare’s songwriting and recording. The latest album ‘Straight Lines’ again reconfirms this belief. Why it has not received wider recognition is a real disappointment. Whether you’ve been to Merseyside or not, O’Hare’s songs will take you there, proving that while ‘Straight Lines’ marks ten years and numerous accomplishments for him as Only Child, he has plenty more stories to tell and places to take you to. (JJ/HJ)

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Pete Gow “Leo”- Pete Gow’s third solo album, ‘Leo’, a collaboration with multi-instrumentalist and producer Joe Bennett, is epic; songs that tell wonderful stories, characters that come to life through the lyrics and orchestral and brass arrangements that perfectly complement the thoughtful words and soulful vocals. The seven-and-a-half-minute centrepiece of the album, ‘Leonard’s Bar’, with its tempo changes as the drama unfolds- has shades of Springsteen’s ‘Jungleland’. A phenomenal album. (GB)

Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra “The Party’s Over” – Every word, note and nuance invokes a response, whether humour, sadness, frivolity or reflection. The artistry and expertise of the lyricists, vocalists and musicians are exceptional. And, behind the façade of what can seem flighty or foolish on the surface, there is a real depth of feeling, experience, wisdom and truth. All of this is beautifully packaged into an emotional roller coaster of real-life stories. (VF)

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Tommy McLain “I Ran Down Every Dream” – One of the biggest surprises of 2022. It is surprising because it was Tommy McLain’s first album in forty years and secondly because it is so good. Eighty-two year old McLain has maintained his keyboard and vocal chops over the last forty years by playing the bars, clubs, and casinos of his native Louisiana and neighbouring states. He recently felt the need to refresh his creative juices and has done this with the likes of C.C. Adcock, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Ivan Neville, Augie Meyers, and Van Dyke Parks helping out on his new album. The new songs and the performances and perfectly in synch making this a great album, and not just a great americana album, and it keeps the swamp pop genre very much alive. (MJ)

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The Hanging Stars “Hollow Heart”‘Hollow Heart’, the fourth album by cosmic country champions, The Hanging Stars, was their best yet. Recorded at Edwyn Collins’ Clashnarrow Studios, overlooking the North Sea, it embraced the jangly guitar pop of The Byrds, Big Star and The Stone Roses, but also the art-rock of The Velvet Underground and Fairport Convention-style folk. Truly magical. (SH)

Willi Carlisle “Peculiar Missouri” –  On ‘Peculiar Missouri’ Carlisle has created an album full of intensely personal songs bravely challenging the stereo typical image of the cowboy singer songwriter while still operating within a familiar musical landscape. This album is my album of the year and I believe in time will be seen as a classic of its genre.

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About Mark Whitfield 2031 Articles
Editor of Americana UK website, the UK's leading home for americana news and reviews since 2001 (when life was simpler, at least for the first 253 days)
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