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In Search of the Best Albums of 2022.

I’ve been a long time fan of John Mellencamp since the mid 80s. Scarecrow (1985), The Lonesome Jubilee (1987) and Big Daddy (1989) were great albums with life lessons that still resonate with me. In the 1990s Mellencamp reinvented himself with a move away from his signature heartland rock sound. I guess since then he has successfully continued to rework his rock formula, even though he has intermittably disappeared in and out of mainstream consciousness. While Mellencamp at 70 believes he has at least ten more good summers in him, I wondered recently whether this old dog had a trick or two still up his sleeve?

Anyway, in my search for the best albums of 2022, Mellencamp isn’t the only one on my radar this week. I’m thrilled to also include two Australian acts and a rock roots band from New York City. Enjoy! 

Grace Cummings – Storm Queen. 

Grace Cummings delivered an impressive debut with Refuge Cove in late 2019. It included The Look You Gave, a song that oozed with wild exuberance in the form of her throaty howling vocals. Cummings has arguably outdone herself with her sophomore release Storm Queen, showing off her class and talent with hurricane strength. We all know Cummings is a gifted vocalist and she shines best on songs like Heaven, Always New Days Always and Up In Flames. Her indie folk leanings across most of the album sees her acoustic guitar take charge. On Dreams though a nice change of pace with the inclusion of keys and strings shows off her willingness to bend. But her best effort is heard on the title track where Cummings elects to solicit a barrage of sound and emotion. It’s a fitting statement that highlights Cummings bluesy songwriting strengths. 

Jane Lee Hooker – Rollin’.

Last year I said “every so often there is nothing quite like the rush of discovering a new band to further fuel your passion for music.” The band I was talking about was Jane Lee Hooker. Earlier this year they release their third album entitled Rollin’. Over the course of eight tracks (which may not sound like enough) its hard not to fall in love with its infectious and carefree spirit. Rollin’ definitely proves the bands bluesy rock roots remain their most valuable asset. They are bold, honest and uncompromisingly loud with Dana Athens a perfect fit on vocal duties. Surprisingly Jane Lee Hooker also possess a strikingly tender side especially on Drive and Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. If only they added a few more tracks of that calibre, I feel like Jane Lee Hooker could have really hit the bull’s eye on this one. But clearly this is an album made for live performances. And for a band whose greatest gift to fans is their live shows, Rollin’ serves as the perfect outing.

John Mellencamp – Strictly A One-Eyed Jack.

Mellencamp has often been cited as the Midwest answer to Bruce Springsteen. Interestingly, the two elder statement have been friends since the 1980s but it took another thirty odd years before they actually became close friends. (Mellencamp often refers to Springsteen as his big brother.) To some people it doesn’t come as a surprise that they would finally come around to collaborate on Mellencamp’s new album Strictly A One-Eyed Jack. In fact, Springsteen recorded three songs with Mellencamp in Indiana for the album. The pick of the bunch is Wasted Days but I have a soft spot for the lively rocker Did You Say Such A Thing. With his 24th studio album, Mellencamp also continues to look at American life. While it might not be a late-career gem, its sincerity and bleak themes sum up Mellencamp to a tee, who is forever fighting against the system, searching for something real. There are also stories here about mortality and the pitfalls of chasing fortune and fame that surprisingly don’t feel overdone. 

Camp Cope – Running With The Hurricane.

For fans of Holly Throsby, Courtney Barnett and maybe even Ben Lee, Camp Cope’s third album, Running With The Hurricane, is definitely an alternative rock treat. The Australian trio have surprisingly taken a different route this time around especially with their sound. It’s a far cry from the very angsty How To Socialise & Make Friends (2018) which saw them for instance call out gender inequality in the music industry. The new album sits somewhere inbetween pop-country and Americana. It has a softer vibe which NPR notes trades rage for quiet confidence. A lot of the songs on the new album look inwards focusing on depression, longing, failed love and being exposed to other frailties. While these themes create the impression of being a hard listen, it is actually the opposite with upbeat melodies saving the day. Standouts include Caroline, Blue, The Mountain and Sing You Heart Out.

Robert Horvat is a Melbourne based blogger. He believes that the world is round and that art is one of our most important treasures. He has seen far too many classic films and believes coffee runs through his veins. As a student of history, he favours ancient and medieval history. Music pretty much rules his life and inspires his moods. Favourite artists include The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Garbage and Lana Del Rey.

3 comments on “In Search of the Best Albums of 2022.

  1. Glad to see John Mellencamp and even more so Jane Lee Hooker on your list!

    Like you, I’m a longtime fan of Mellencamp and always like to check out any new music he releases. While perhaps not as strong as “Sad Clowns & Hillbillies”, his 2017 collaboration with Carlene Carter, “Strictly a One-Eyed Jack” is a solid album.

    The ladies and gent of Jane Lee Hooker really rock. They recently wrapped up a tour, largely playing gigs in Europe. Wherever they go, audiences seem to love them. I got a chance to catch the band in New York at the release party for their new album “Rollin” – great energy! Unlike their previous two albums, which were strictly blues rock, they are branching out on “Rollin'”. I really dig the soulful vibe of “Drive”.

    Grace Cummings and Camp Code, both new to me, sound intriguing as well. Cummings has an interesting voice!

  2. I like all four songs you shared, but oh man, the one by Grace Cummings is absolute fire! Wow, what a voice, and her supporting musicians are all superb too. I love the looks on their faces at the end of the video; they knew they nailed it!

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