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Wednesday 14 December 2022

From Black To Blood - Albums Of The Year 2022


1. CARDINAL BLACK : January Came Close

     Long anticipated debut album from the Cardiff band whose stop-start journey has seen them supporting Myles Kennedy and The Struts, headlining Cardiff Castle, and picking up plaudits. Slash is among the band’s fans, championing guitarist Chris Buck whose gorgeous licks adorn songs spearheaded by the soulful vocals of Tom Hollister. A sublime set in every way.


     Contemporary Americana combining Red Dirt, rock and folk served up by the West Texans now on their fourth album. Spencer quit his construction job to pursue a full time music career in 2020, just as the pandemic locked the world down and tour dates had to be scrapped. I’ve loved all of the band’s albums so far - let’s hope they make it to the UK in 2023.

3. MORGAN WADE : Reckless

    She supported The Eagles in Hyde Park this year, headlining the second stage, and it’s only a matter of time until the Virginian singer-songwriter plays the biggest stages. This is the deluxe edition of 2021’s debut album, adding extra tracks and including Wilder Days, rated one of the year’s 10 best songs by Rolling Stone. A contemporary country delight.

4. WHISKEY MYERS : Tornillo

     Superb sixth album from the Texan band who combine southern rock, country and Americana roots - and this time they’ve brought company in the shape of a added horn section adding brass punch to their riffs. The Mariachi band who open the album just happened to be playing in a Tornillo street outside the studio, so Whiskey Myers dragged them in to the sessions! 

5. A THOUSAND HORSES : Broken Heartland

    The Nashville band serve up a set shot through with unashamed country, classic rock and a shot of Jack Daniels on the side. Not afraid to tie enticing hooks to accessible songs, they list among their influences The Rolling Stones, Dwight Yoakam, Tom Petty and Noel Gallagher. Not prolific, it’s only their third album in 12 years but each one has been worth the wait.

6. WEYES BLOOD : And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

     Second in a planned trilogy by singer-songwriter Natalie Mering, who has performed under various Weyes Blood guises since 2003. It’s the warmth of her vocal that makes you sit up and pay attention as it cosies up to all manner of lushly produced, occasionally experimental, soundscapes. Her voice has been compared to that of the late Karen Carpenter, although I feel Aimee Mann is nearer the mark.

7. THE WANDERING HEARTS : The Wandering Hearts

    The Londoners among the vanguard of the British Americana boom serve up an eponymous debut album that ranges from rootsy retro to 60s Laurel Canyon and never fails to charm. The harmonies at times recall Rumours era Fleetwood Mac as the lead vocal swaps between band members, and the performance is casually tight - a feat few can pull off properly. They supported the Eagles at Hyde Park too.

8. SHAWN WILLIAMS : Wallowin’ In The Night

     Heartbreaks and hangovers, break-ups and booze, vices and vulnerability all rub shoulders on the New Orleans singer’s fourth outing that serves as a late rainy night soundtrack. Williams describes her work as “alt-rocka countrybilly serial killer blues” and it covers all the angles of a strong set ranging across genres. Just when you thought you had her figured out, Everything You Stood For goes all Radiohead. 

9. EDDIE VEDDER : Earthling

     The Pearl Jam frontman’s first solo set in a decade offers guest spots to Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Ringo Starr but they’re just a sideshow for an accessible album that includes some of Vedder’s best vocals yet. Highlights include Tom Petty soundalike Long Way, which just happens to be washed by Heartbreaker Benmont Tench’s trademark organ, and the anthemic, aptly titled and multitracked, Invincible.

10. MIKE CAMPBELL & THE DIRTY KNOBS : External Combustion

      Speaking of Tom Petty, longtime sideman Mike Campbell is back with a second helping of his Dirty Knobs that, while reminiscent of his late friend, is not the slavish soundalike session of the band’s debut. Sure, there’s plenty here that Heartbreakers fans will lap up, but also more stretching of musical muscle. Most of the time, regardless, you can hear Campbell & Co having a ball in the recording studio.

      * Yes, of course, it’s a personal collection and I’m aware of an ongoing shift toward country influences this year, but these are great albums well worth your time, whatever your tastes in music. I’ve also not included a trio of great live albums: Creedence Clearwater Revival Live At The Albert Hall, the huge Tom Petty Live At The Fillmore 1979 box set and ZZ Top’s Raw rockumentary soundtrack.

     Last, but not least, have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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