Tim Martin: My Americana Year – 2022

All through 2022 I’ve been banging on about what a great year it has been for new music. I looked back at the scores I’ve given and overall, they are higher than in 2021. Have I just got lucky, and our esteemed editor sent me the pick to listen to? Unlikely. But talking to my colleagues and reading their reviews it has been a good year. We have had a flurry of 10 out of 10 scores as well, not always from people you would have thought of for a near-perfect album.

Why would it be that this year has produced so much great music, spread across a range of styles. While the Pandemic and its various lockdowns devastated artists’ income and work, it did give them time to spend considering their writing in more depth than the tour, album, tour treadmill often allows. In press releases I have seen many artists tell us about the burst of inspiration that being off the road allowed. The Delines’ ‘The Sea Drift’ was my introduction to a band that have become a favourite. With ‘The Imperial’ making it to the top 3 of our albums of the 21st Century they are a band who we can hope to see more from next year. Calexico also turned in a great album. Another 9 out of 10 for me was Chris Cleverley’s ‘Broadcast The Secret Verse’ which with its mix of folk, electronica and good songs came out of nowhere, at least for me. Morton Valence, Angeline Morrison, and John Calvin Abney all turned in brilliant albums and were new names to me. So, while I wouldn’t wish the last few years on anyone, the music we have now was born from them. The blending of genres with pop leaking into Americana and indie rock is another interesting development. Folk music particularly is enjoying a great run of albums as younger artists bring new influences while respecting traditional styles.

Live music came back with a bang this year. Some great shows from The Delines, Lady Nade, and others. The Americana Fest at the American Museum & Gardens in Bath was a lovely weekend of music and lazing about. It also introduced me to Robert Vincent and Peter Bruntnell, now firmly on the radar for new music and past albums. Matt Owens’ pulled together a brilliant weekend and managed to turn in a great show himself. His ‘Beer For The Horses’ and recent show in Bath have turned me into a fan.

There are always disappointments of course. It may be time to accept I’ll never be a Courtney Marie Andrews fan for instance. Live I saw Hannah White support Ricky Ross’ book tour at St George’s Bristol and was mildly underwhelmed. Perhaps she wasn’t on the best night as I seem to be in a minority there. At Americana Fest in Bath last summer Kezia Gill’s acoustic set was just fine, but she clearly suits a full electric band far better as a friend came back from seeing her recent tour a firm fan. And that points to a concern for the future. How do people like Owens and Gill finance full band tours to show off their music at its best. The answer lies with us, the fans. We must get tickets in advance so that the shows go ahead, buy CDs and Downloads on Bandcamp, not stream on Spotify, and click through the adverts on AUK to support the artists, and indeed us.

Alec Bowman-Clarke has been writing for the last few years on the iniquities of the music business and said of Spotify in a tweet recently that it was “amazing for the consumer and a death sentence for non-independently wealthy artists. It’s *nearly* too expensive to tour/release without trust fund backing.” So, 2023 is the year to step up and support your local venue, and the artists who play there, then we get to enjoy them in 2024 as well.

Anyway, here are a couple of my new discoveries for the year. Happy Christmas…

About Tim Martin 167 Articles
Sat in my shed listening to music, and writing about some of it. Occasionally allowed out to attend gigs.

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