As 2022 draws to a close, here are some of For Folk’s Sake contributors favourite releases of the year.
Wilco – Cruel Country
Over 30 years since Jeff Tweedy spawned the No Depression movement with Uncle Tupelo, Wilco released this sprawling double-album rooted in country. One to get lost in on a long journey, Cruel Country sees Tweedy and co at their most evocative, mapping the state of play in their homeland with eloquence, heart and humour.
Jake Xerxes Fussell – Good And Green Again
The fifth album by North Carolina songwriter Jake Xerxes Fussell (what a name!), is lovingly crafted, blending his own spacious ruminations with traditional folk verse, including the 9-minute ‘Golden Willow Tree’. There’s also some wonderful instrumentals including the shimmering ‘Frolic’.
Kevin Morby – This Is A Photograph
Inspired by a box of old family photographs, Kevin Morby’s seventh album is a rollicking ride through county, soul and rock – his most energetic since 2016’s Singing Saw. Ambitious, driven and soul-baring, it could be a career highlight.
Junior Boys – Waiting Game
The Canadian electronic duo submerge listeners in a soulful, warm bath of an album which, through minimalistic textures and fragmented vocals, dissolves into all the right places of your psyche. Want some balmy after-hours music with a hint of Steely Dan? This is your record.
Dekker – I Won’t Be Your Foe
One half of US-Anglo indie folk duo Rue Royale, the Nottingham-based songwriter’s second solo effort continues his mining of mind and experience with deft melodies and catchy choruses. Haunting yet hopeful, honest and entertaining, he’s on a roll.
(Disclaimer: Dekker is actually Pete’s brother-in-law, but it is a good album – Duncan)
Allison Leah – the weight of my heart
Taylor Swift comparisons are as inevitable as they are warranted—Allison Leah’s the weight of my heart sparks a promising new start for the Nashville artist. The EP feels like a complete work, with an accessible, soulfully delivered folk-pop sound with musings on love and life that most anyone can relate to.
Brett Altman – Not Quite Love
Making the best of a bad situation, like a rough breakup, is Brett Altman’s MO on his new LP. He showcases his adroit musicianship throughout, touching on jazz and soul movements at the crux of this folk-rock release which, along with his gorgeous vocal tenor, set him shoulders above other East Coast indie releases in 2022.
Francis Larson – Elsewhere, or Further
Francis Larson’s hearty vocal delivery stands centre on his new EP, delivered with a pleasing rock edge that accentuates his frontman sensibilities. His knack for meshing earworm melodies with heart-rending stories is noted, especially with a stunning acappella-led finale in album closing-ballad, ‘Elsewhere’.
Judy Blank – Saddies
Utrecht’s Judy Blank turns in a stunning collection of folk-pop tunes reflecting on the human condition, aptly titled Saddies. An elevation in production mixes well with Blank’s prolific songwriting chops, making for a splendid, effortlessly listenable collection of rainy day songs.
RISO – New Eyes
Arizona roots mainstays Matt & Rebekah Rolland take their folk leanings to the next level as RISO, a spousal duo with the chops to take the world on in the same way that Watkins Family Hour have. A fine collection of vocally-driven and instrumental tracks make for a gorgeous folk release verging on traditional, though progressive riffs and Rebekah’s pristine tone set them a step above the rest.
Curse of Lono – People in Cars
Technically, this came out at the tail end of last year but, like others elsewhere, I’m refusing to skip it on that technicality. Felix had a terrible year, but it resulted in a great album. Dark, down tempo gothic rock.
Alex Cameron – Oxy Music
Interestingly, covers a little of the same ground as Curse of Lono, but presentationally very, very different. Expect fun sing-a-long tunes charting self-destruction through drug addiction.
Andrew Bird – Inside Problems
Jazz-tinged songs with clever, introspective song-writing.
Anna Ash – Sleeper
More nice songwriting, but really distinguished by Anna’s voice which lends everything a touch of vintage richness.
Sunday Driver – Sun God
A welcome return after a ten (count them) years gap since their last album. Stylisticly, the same (for them, but unique generally) combination of western and Indian styles with an eclectic instrument mix.