So, here they are, my Top 20 Best Songs of 2022 – not an easy choice given the year we’ve just had with so many artists still delaying releasing new music and, of course, not forgetting how COVID 19 continues to effect artists and their industry. Sadly, many may not recover and we will all be the lesser for this.
I found it quite a challenge to listen to new music/artists in 2022 as I attended so few gigs. However, the CMA Festival in Nashville in June (corresponding with my 60th) was everything I hoped it would be and some of the artists who I enjoyed appear on this list. I only hosted one House Gigs in 2021, however, thankfully, my Gig in the Garden was able to go ahead as did my last gig of the year with Graham Kendrick.
However, 2022 has still been a good year – though there are still few ‘golden oldies’ appearing. There may be new names on this list for some of you – and some exciting songs waiting to be discovered. If something does take your fancy, then don’t just add it to your Spotify Playlist. Buy the CD or, at the very least, download the track or, better still, go and see them live.
As always, my choices are an eclectic (and unexpected) mix – it’s always difficult to place them in a top 20.
So, make yourself a brew, open a can or fill a glass and sit back and enjoy some fabulous (mostly British) talent for the next hour or so!
BONUS TRACK Goodness Of God Ce Ce Winans
Ce Ce Winans is an actress but is probably better known as a Gospel Artist. She has sold in excess of 12 million records around the world and has won 12 Grammy Awards. The Goodness of God is taken from the live album Believe For It and is one of my favourite worship songs of 2022 – but don’t skip this song because of that!
20. Ghost Town The Specials
No surprise this song should find itself appearing on this list – if only as a tribute to Terry Hall who died in December. Known for his dour image and sharp wit, Hall chronicled the social and economic unrest of the times quite brilliantly. Has there ever been a song which shone a light on urban decline of the time than ‘Ghost Town?’
19. Bottles And Rust Ten Fields
Bottles And Rust is taken from Leeds based Ten Fields second album Change In The Light which has just the right mixture of upbeat songs and reflective ballads with shades of Fleetwood Mac, Ben Glover and AMAUK winners Lewis & Leigh. However, the sound is distinctively theirs, and is certainly up there with some of the best Americana releases in recent times. This is my favourite song on the album.
18 Coal Country Charles Wesley Godwin
Coal Country was the lead single from Charles Wesley Godwin’s debut solo album, Seneca – a true Americana album if ever there was one – old-time country and folk music, reinforced with a rock backbone! The West Virginia native paints a grim portrait of his Appalachian homeland, which at one time was the leading coal producer in the country. Now though, the area has been struck by poverty, drug abuse, and the lack of a healthy economy. He could be writing, and singing, about the North East coal fields which have experienced a similar fate in recent times. This song strikes a nostalgic chord with me and might not be for everyone. Perhaps listening to the album might be a better idea!
17. It All Started With A Beer Frankie Ballard
Country-blues-rocker Frankie Ballard released El Rio to critical acclaim and was selected by Rolling Stone as one of the 25 Best Country and Americana albums of 2016 and The Tennessean as one of the best 16 Nashville albums of 2016. Of course, he was never on my radar until I saw him at the CMA Fest. It All Started With a Beer is a nostalgic song that has Ballard looking back at the start of a relationship. I love the opening line: “You had a Corona, I was drinking Bud Light …!”
16. Want You Back Haim
One of the most surprising gigs of this year was going to see Haim at the O2 with my daughter. This was the third time it had been rescheduled and, if it wasn’t for the fact that I was taking Annabel, I probably wouldn’t have given up. I’m glad I didn’t. I was hugely surprised at how good they were, their musicianship and stage craft and how they could rock it with the best of them. This is probably one of their best songs in recent years. I do quite like this acoustic version.
15. Shouldn’t Care Connor Selby
Billericay’s own Connor Selby is a rising British blues star in the traditions of Eric Clapton and Peter Green, who has already performed with his band at Wembley Stadium, at the age of 22, at the behest of The Who. Winner of the UK Blues Young Artist of the Year Award in 2020 and 2021 and 2022, Selby played a storming ‘acoustic’ set at my Gig In The Garden 2022 Shouldn’t Care is his latest single.
14. Rust Walker Montgomery
What a great name! The son of John Michael Montgomery is making a name for himself as a singer/songwriter. Montgomery was chosen as the ‘Artist to Watch’ in 2022 by Country Now and Music Mayhem Magazine; as well as Artist to Watch in 2021 by Sounds Like Nashville. I saw him play two outstanding sets at the CMA Fest and Rust is taken from his first EP.
13. Cheats And Liars Elles Bailey
Bristol-based, multi-award-winning, genre-crossing Elles Bailey released her latest album Shining in the Half Light in the summer. Cheats and Liars was the first single and she says:
This song was born in darkness, desperation and isolation, in a time where information was fed to us by the media before hearing it from those “in charge” and I wanted the video to represent that. To be all alone in the half light yet surrounded by this “media noise”.
12. Don’t Call The Preacher Borderline
A collection of seasoned musicians from Leigh on Sea, Southend, collaborated on their debut album Precious Souls in 2021. An eclectic mix of country and rock and harmonies reminiscent of the Eagles! This was the first single from the album released in early 2022. A friend suggested I should buy the album – I wasn’t disappointed.
11. Walking In Memphis Marc Cohn
In addition to attending the CMA Fest in ‘Music City’ we drove down to Memphis to spend a few days in the Blues Delta. One song that I seemed to be singing several times a day was this by Marc Cohn. And yes, we walked down Union Avenue and Beale Street and walked up to the gates of Graceland and saw the jungle room!
10. Dirty Town Jenny Colquitt
I saw Jenny Colquitt at the Little Rabbit Barn supporting Morganway in August. I’d never heard of her before but was bowled over by her set. Colquitt encompasses a unique combination of Americana, indie and folk rock and pop. Winner of the 2021/2022 FATEA ‘Female artist of the Year’ award and the 2020/2021 GSMC Award for best female solo singer/songwriter, Colquitt’s music is described as storytelling at its finest. Dirty Town is loosely (??) based on her hometown of Widnes and is taken from her 2021 album Something Beautiful.
9. Songbird Fleetwood Mac / Christine McVie
Many of us would have been saddened at the death of Christine McVie – one of the most influential voices and songwriters of the UK music scene. As a way of tribute, and to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the release of Rumours (still one of the greatest albums of all time), I simply had to include, what many would agree is, McVie’s finest song. Gotta say I’m really enjoying Songbird: A Solo Collection.
8. Beautiful Stranger Marcus King
Inspired by Marcus King’s appearance with the Zac Brown Band at the CMA Fest I went along to his gig at the Nashville Gibson Guitar Factory – and what a gig it was. Beautiful Stranger is taken from his 2021 album El Dorado. Whilst King is really a rock / blues guitarist (looking a little like Paul Kossoff) this really is a fabulous song. FYI, King is playing in London in March – I have my tickets.
7. Car Crash Hannah White
Hannah White played an outstanding short set when supporting Ricky Ross in October 2022 at Emmanuel church, Billericay. I’d listened to her album About Time before this gig and knew the songs but I was bowled over by them performed live as well as the heartfelt delivery and humanity that Hannah brought to her performance – an engaging mix of thoughtful lyrics and moving back stories. Car Crash is nominated for the Americana Music Association UK nomination for Song Of The Year 2023 award. White is also booked to play at The Rectory in February and that is one gig not to be missed.
6. I Was The Beatles Ricky Ross
It’s been a busy year for BillerRicky Ross with the release of his latest solo album Short Stories Vol.2 and his memoir Walking Back Home. This song, I Was The Beatles, charts the incompatibility of a lost love – which will resonate with many of us. And, of course, he played the last night of his British tour at Emmanuel another coup for revpacman promotions! During the gig we were treated to both humorous and poignant readings from his excellent book perfectly positioned between the songs. A brilliant evening.
5. Somebody Like You Keith Urban
I have to confess I’m a little late to the party on this one – as this was released in first released in 2002. I’d always discounted Keith Urban as a less than average Country singer who was famous for being married to Nicole Kidman. Doh! How wrong I was. Uran played a simply outstanding gig at the CMA Fest – he had the crowd eating out of his hand at 12.30 am (yep, that late). He has a repertoire of some amazing songs and he plays a mean lead guitar too. I really like this one!
4. Fiona Fantastic Cat
Who? I’d have never heard about then if it wasn’t for the fact that Anthony D’Amato was a member. You may recall D’Amato supported Ricky Ross on his 2017 solo tour and played a house gig in The Rectory when he toured the UK and Europe in October 2018. Fantastic Cat brings together the talents of D’Amato and Brian Dunne, Don DiLego and Mike Montali (nope, never heard of any of them either!) But what a sound they make. Their debut album released in 2022 was entitled The Very Best of Fantastic Cat. Well worth looking out for.
3. Whenever You Come Around Chris Stapleton
It’s no secret that Chris Stapleton is one of my favourite artists who has featured in my ‘songs of the year’ on several occasions. This isn’t an original Stapleton song but rather a tribute to the legendary Vince Gill. However, that doesn’t really matter – this finds multiple award winner Stapleton at his best.
2. Port City Madeline Edwards
I knew Madeline Edwards was one to look out for because she spent most of 2021/2 supporting Chris Stapleton on tour. Whilst she released an album Crashlanded late 2022 Port City, taken from an EP released in 2021. It is a song written about her move from Texas to Nashville – it resonated with me in many different ways. I saw her on one of the smaller stages at the CMA Fest and she didn’t disappoint. Definitely one to look out for.
1. Stubborn Pride Zac Brown Band (featuring Marcus King)
The Zac Brown Band are a multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning, Southern rock group led by front man, Zac Brown. Throughout their career they have developed a reputation with critics and fans alike as one of the most dynamic live performers, marked by strong musicianship that defies genre boundaries. And this was certainly true of their performance at the CMA Fest 2022. This collaboration with Marcus King was one of the stand out songs of the festival and my stand out song of 2022.
So, there you have them – my Top 20 Best Songs of 2022. And for those of you who like to know these things there are: 8 male artists, 6 female artists and 6 groups.
Were any of your choices included? Have I made any significant omissions?
Have a great 2023 checking out some of the above artists, seeking out new ones and supporting live music in Billericay – or wherever you live – it is a lifeline for the artists and venues.
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