Henry Carrigan’s Favorite Folk Albums of 2022
It’s been a dark year on many fronts. Perhaps it’s that darkness that has resulted in music that’s lifted our hearts and souls above the gloom around us.
All my favorite albums this year acknowledge the despair and anxiety we face daily while embracing the hope, love, and wholeness that mends our hearts and the world around us. These albums have the potential to carry us out of ourselves, as the songs wash over us.
1. Miko Marks and the Resurrectors – Feel Like Going Home
From the very first note on this album’s opening song to its final notes, Marks’ soaring, soulful vocals lift, transport, and deliver us. She dwells in the music, turns it over in her heart and soul, and offers it back to us as a precious gift. “Deliver Me” is a perfect little song that blends the sonic echoes of the Band with exhilarating gospel piano rolls and exquisite background vocals.
2. Eliza Gilkyson – Songs from the River Wind
Gilkyson crafts songs with lyrical elegance and emotional purity. The musical genius of this album can permeates your heart and soul. Songs From the River Wind weaves lyrics and melodies into a colorful, warm, cherished musical quilt.
3. Mary Gauthier – Dark Enough to See the Stars
Gauthier knowingly discerns the light that shines through the darkness in our lives. On this brilliant album, she dives into the gloom to reveal the facets of healing and light that illumine those shadows.
4. Amy Ray – If It All Goes South
We can always count on Amy Ray to give us songs that reflect on the human condition. She gets us to look deep into ourselves and the world around, so we can make it a better place. This album showcases Ray’s lyrical ingenuity, her acute moral sensibility, her unflagging desire to change the world for the good, and her captivating way of expressing both the beauty and ugliness of humanity in a song.
5. Leyla McCalla – Breaking the Thermometer
This album unfolds cinematically, surveying in panoramic fashion the everyday struggles of Haitians attempting to maintain political equilibrium and survive another day. Her brilliant symphonic ode shimmers with emotional nuances that dwell in the corners between the personal and the political.
6. Sam Bush – Radio John
Bush pays tribute to his mentor and close friend John Hartford in this collection of cover songs. In his inimitable way, Bush captures Hartford’s spirit and keeps alive his legacy. Radio John celebrates Hartford’s life and music in his original ode.
7. Kieran Kane & Rayna Gellert – The Flowers That Bloom in Spring
The colorful songs on this album blossom vibrantly, shooting tendrils of sound skyward, unfurling petals of melody in exquisite radiance. Graceful, hauntingly joyous, and vividly picturesque, The Flowers That Bloom in Spring showcases the brilliant songwriting and effusive musicianship of these kindred musical souls.
8. Keb’ Mo’ – Good to Me
Keb’ Mo’s new album radiates love and hope with a soulfulness that will leave a smile on your face as you sing along. Every song touched my heart—Mo’s mellifluous vocals sing directly to the deepest part of us. His music creates an aura that wraps us in the warmth of that delivery.
9. Terre and Maggie Roche – Kin Ya See That Sun
This album/book features never-before-released live recordings of the sisters’ performances in San Diego in 1975 and Albany, N.Y., in 2000. We can hear the sisters working out guitar and vocal parts as they arrange the songs. The sparseness of their arrangements shimmers exquisitely, and these versions from 1975 and 2000 will reverberate in your heart as you hear them.
10. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Dirt Does Dylan
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band makes a little magic with this affectionate, stirring, exuberant collection of their versions of Dylan songs. Among them: a rousing cover of “The Times They Are A-Changin’” with help from Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle, Jason Isbell, and the War and Treaty.