Nashville is Music City. Every year some of the worlds best albums are made in this city and by the artists who live here. As DJs and ambassadors of the city we have put in the hours listening to as much music as we can and here are our favorite Nashville releases of 2022.
Celia’s Pick – *repeat repeat’s Everyone Stop
Calling late-in-the-year release Everyone Stop a favorite 2022 record feels a bit like a cheat, considering some of these tunes have been aired on WNXP for closer to two years, as *repeat repeat steadily released super singles in 2021 and then a chill-songs EP called Songs for a Nice Drive. Power couple Jared and Kristyn Corder – who write, record, produce and perform as the core of *repeat repeat – brought their full-band sound to WNXP as Nashville Artists of the Month in November 2021 when they graced our newly christened Sonic Cathedral.
But the November 2022 reveal of TWENTY-SEVEN tracks, none skippable, and a lion’s share remarkable, make this an easy pick for me. *repeat repeat don’t miss, not with lyrics nor tasty licks nor melodies nor harmonies.
Justin’s Pick – R.A.P. Ferreira’s 5 to the Eye with Stars
At the end of “fighting back,” the first song on 5 To the Eye With Stars, R.A.P. Ferreira repeats, “I know it’s epic poetry that keeps the cosmos orbiting.” He knows that. And that is who he is. He is Homer. He is Virgil. He is an epic poet in the modern day.
His delivery is that of a spoken word poet. He’s as playful with his delivery as he is with his wordplay. Silence and suspense are his weapons against the beast of predictability. Behind the mic he is comfortable and free, almost as if this is all off the top of his head, and who knows, it may be. Even if it’s not it gives the impression that somehow, this is all an ethereal moment that will rise with the smoke of time, but also that this moment is important and one to remember for centuries, R.A.P. Ferreria as Virgil, guiding us through this journey.
Emily’s Pick – Erin Rae’s Lighten Up
Cosmic country, Americana, folk — call her what you will, but one thing is for certain: Erin Rae is angelic. It’s hard to imagine anything could top her 2018 effort Putting On Airs, but this year’s Lighten Up represents a growth in Rae’s musicianship and craft, unmatched by most who claim these genres.
Produced by Jonathan Wilson in his Topanga Canyon studio, Lighten Up continues to explore vulnerable topics like mental health and relationships, but this time with a Laurel Canyon-esque psychedelic tinge. With noted influences like J.J. Cale and Bobbie Gentry, an unhurried aesthetic is prevalent throughout the album, but never without a bit of honky-tonk twang. Still, the best aspect of Lighten Up is the cooing sound of Erin Rae’s voice that, again, can only be properly described as angelic.
Jason’s Pick – Twen’s One Stop Shop
After a dizzying but ultimately disappointing first foray into the music business with their 2019 debut Awestruck, the duo of Jane Fitzsimmons and Ian Jones hunkered down DIY-style in a self-converted van/home/studio to figure out what they wanted to say and how they wanted to say it.
The result is an album that turns the mirror in all directions – at themselves, at society, at this fractured business of music – but does so without sounding either too maudlin or preachy. It’s a statement from a band musically and lyrically equipped to make one.
Marquis’ Pick – Negro Justice’s Chosen Family
My favorite Nashville releases this year was Chosen Family, the debut solo album from Negro Justice, and our former #RecordoftheWeek. A member of local hip hop collective Six One Tribe, Negro Justice, born Christin Brown, always believed in choosing your own family, building a support system around you, whether those people are blood or not. This project features collaborations with local artists from the scene he’s part of, along with jazzy beats, revealing storytelling and voice messages from some of the most important people in his inner circle: His Chosen Family.
Songs like “G.T.S.H” talking about his relationship with his father. “George Jefferson Strut” although an older reference this generation probably won’t understand, Negro Justice and local hip hop artists Gee Slab, FU Stan, and Corduroy Clemens confidently strutting through the instrumental as they showcase depth and solidary in Nashville’s hip hop scene. “Folks Out Here” sums up how he wants you to feel when you listen to the entirety of the album: He wants this music to help you get through your toughest moments and feel confidence and swagger within yourself while you do it, and that’s what this album did for me in 2022.