10 Best Albums of 2022 | Songlines
Thursday, November 24, 2022

10 Best Albums of 2022

Featuring fantastic releases from Abel Selaocoe, Jake Blount, Oumou Sangaré, Silvana Estrada and more

Songlines Albums Of The Year 2022


Abel Selaocoe

Where Is Home (Hae Ke Kae) Warner Classics

What’s remarkable about this album is not just the strength and ferocity of the playing and the power of the material, but the singleness of vision that brings these contrasting ingredients into a thrilling whole. Simon Broughton

Read the Songlines review


Ablaye Cissoko & Cyrille Brotto

Instant Ma Case

In recent years the Senegalese griot Ablaye Cissoko has taken his kora into a variety of imaginative and unexpected contexts, including a trio of albums with the trumpeter Volker Goetze and playing with the Constantinople Ensemble. Here he comes up with a fresh surprise by teaming up his kora with the deft playing of French diatonic accordion maestro Cyrille Brotto. Yet again it proves to be a why-didn’t-anyone-think-of-that-before master stroke, for the sonorities of the two instruments chime perfectly. Nigel Williamson

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Zavrzlama CPL Music

A real highlight is ‘Peno’, by the late Šaban Bajramović, one of Yugoslavia’s larger than life Roma composers. More surprising is the sassy Latin style of ‘Opa, Opa’, by Serbian composer Radivoje Radivojević with Cuban-style piano and horns. And then there’s the beautiful original song ‘Voće Rodilo’ by piano player Neven Tunjić, which features superb Balkan accordion playing by Nedžad Mušović. Definitely one of the best sevdah albums in years. Simon Broughton


Jake Blount

The New Faith Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

While fire and damnation fuel the apocalyptic narrative of Blount’s Afro-futurist parables, mellifluous grooves and hooky refrains make songs like ‘The Downward Road’, ‘Didn’t It Rain’ and ‘Give Up the World’ as danceable as they are memorable. Doug DeLoach

Read the Songlines review


La Perla

Callejera Mambo Negro Records

La Perla have established themselves so insidiously into the fabric of contemporary Colombian music that it’s hard to believe this is their debut album, but the facts do not lie. After a stellar series of singles and EPs dating back to 2017, including their feminist anthem ‘Guayabo’, the all-female trio have unleashed their first long-player and it does not disappoint. Russ Slater


Maya Youssef

Finding Home Maya Youssef

Born in Damascus but now based in the UK, Youssef has set out to explore and expand the range of the qanun, the 78-stringed zither, which may be one of the most distinctive Middle Eastern instruments but it has never been played quite like this. Her last album, Syrian Dreams, rightly won a Songlines Music Award in 2018, and now comes an even more adventurous set, in which the qanun is accompanied by anything from acoustic bass and percussion to cello, keyboards and strings. Robin Denselow

Read the Songlines review


Oumou Sangaré

Timbuktu World Circuit/BMG

There’s melodic Afro-pop (‘Sira’) and gentle folk-rock (‘Degui N’Kelena’), but perhaps best of all is ‘Kanou’, a multi-stringed mini-symphony on which Mamadou Sidibe’s kamelengoni is joined by dobro, banjo and slide guitar. As for Sangaré’s voice, it just seems to grow ever richer with the passing of time. Nigel Williamson

Read the Songlines review


Silvana Estrada

Marchita Glassnote Records

Mexican singer-songwriter Silvana Estrada plays a host of instruments, but says she most often opts for the Venezuelan cuatro guitar, because its small body and warm sound suit her hands and sync with her vocals. Her debut album, Marchita, freights precisely that image, of a woman folded around her music, and holding in, while plucking outward, the things she intensely feels. Chris Moss

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Small Island Big Song

Our Island Small Island Big Song

With welcoming conch shells, ricocheting pan-oceanic rhythms, and lapping water sounds aplenty, standout tracks include ‘Ta’u Tama’ featuring Vaiteani, Putad and Emlyn’s shared ‘Listwar Zanset’, Sauljaljui’s ‘Madjadjumak’ and Putad’s own ‘Pinagsanga’. An unexpected inclusion is an ensemble cover version of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)’, but it actually works rather well. Seth Jordan

Read the Songlines review


Sona Jobarteh

Badinyaa Kumoo African Guild Records

Sona Jobarteh's return to recording is hugely welcome, for Badinyaa Kumoo is crammed with fine new compositions on which she sings in Mandinka as Western instrumentation mixes seamlessly with djembé and calabash and her own glorious kora playing. Nigel Williamson

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