Half Year Review: Top 10 Country, Bluegrass, & Americana Releases That Should Be On Your Radar

With lightning speed, 2022 is already halfway in the can. Smack dab in the middle. Where does the time go?

In the past half year, we’ve already come across a ton of great Americana, Country, and Bluegrass releases that resonated one way or another. From fresh faces to seasoned veterans, there has been a fun mixed bag of modern day hits delivered to us that are still in their infancy.

Below is our Top 10 list of Americana, Bluegrass, and Country releases that caught our eyes and ears in the first half of 2022.

10. J. Dewveall“Slave Owners Gospel”

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Released on April 22nd, “Slave Owner’s Gospel,” portrays a unique perspective on slavery and the lingering effects it has had on Black Americans to this day. Through his haunting lyrics and powerful voice, Dewveall sings about how throughout different time periods, religion was used to enslave and segregate. However, the end of the song ends on a positive note about how the bible can be used to uplift people, and the same text can be used as a tool as opposed to a weapon. This song also comes along with a moving music video.

9. Beth Nielsen Chapman“Hey Girl”

A natural songwriter, Chapman has written for artists like Elton John, Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood and many more. Her single, “Hey Girl”, was released on May 6th, and it leaves the listener feeling empowered and hopeful towards the future. She shows us this strength with her compelling high notes and soulful delivery, reminding us to be our own storytellers. Her fearless lyricism and effortless composition reel the listener into this modern day banger. This single will appear on her upcoming album, Crazytown, which will be released September 23rd of this year.

8. Jeremy GarrettRiver Wild 

Jeremy Garrett told us in a previous interview, “I really just tried to make a great bluegrass record that both traditionalists and progressive music listeners could hopefully enjoy.” And that is what he did with his March album, River Wild. Garrett – also a key member of The Infamous Stringdusters – showcases his multi-instrumentation perfection on this album along with his grassroots lyricism, which brings us along in a story-like order. He allows the listener to immerse themselves into each song, and feel the emotion that goes with it. If you enjoy traditional bluegrass with a modern twist, this is the album for you.

7. The Slocan RamblersUp the Hill and Through the Fog

Despite some hurdles and hardships for Toronto’s The Slocan Ramblers, the group successfully conceived their new album, Up The Hill and Through The Fog. Out of struggle and loss, the group created a piece of art that puts their bluegrass roots and originality on full display. With 12 new songs, the band delivers an easy listening down-home sound, and one that leaves listeners with a message of hope. The group produces imagery that captures the tumultuous years behind, while remaining uplifting with its driving, authentic sound.

6. Westwood Avenue Westwood Avenue 

Westwood Avenue’s self-titled debut album offers immediate intrigue upon needle drop, which is in fact the song, “Westwood Avenue.” The album features 11 songs that showcase their exceptional take on traditional country music, which is steeped in modern-day Music City lyrical inspiration. And often throughout, the unwanted change for these natives (Ryan Jennings and Carter Brallier) who’ve watched Nashville evolve into NashVegas first-hand. The band released their epic debut single and music video, “Bachelorette Screams,” last November, and have used their talent to deliver an album that allows listeners to get swept away in soothing harmonies, vocals, and guitar strings. 

5. Amanda Anne Platt & The HoneycuttersThe Devil and The Deep Blue Sea

Getting through the pandemic is one thing, and creating one album is another, but making a double album is a huge hill to climb, no matter how much time you have on your hands. However, Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters managed to do just that, and in fantastic fashion. The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea shows us about the duality of creativity; how sometimes it is productive, lazy, uplifting, manic or even outgoing. Lyrically driven, the band’s country roots music often inspires introspection, whether it be about life on the road, heartache, or hope.

4. Cristina VaneMake Myself Me Again 

Released May 20th of this year, Vane’s second album, Make Myself Me Again, showcases the natural gift of song this roots songstress possesses both lyrically and in her multi-instrumental talent. She delves into her relationships, experiences, nature, and what she sees in the world around her. She does so with an incredible dose of Americana soul and country charm throughout, and her picking abilities and vocal range shine throughout the 13 new songs. Definitely one to keep an eye on to see if she’ll be in a town near you.

3. The Whitmore Sisters Ghost Stories

These two sisters, Eleanor and Bonnie Whitmore, released a hauntingly harmonious masterpiece on their new co-written album, Ghost Stories, which dropped on January 21 via Red House Records. Through 10 original songs and a cover of Paul McCartney’s “On the Wings of a Nightingale” the duo show their most unique musical prowess, and deliver songs that tell a different story than what we’re usually hearing. The Whitmore Sisters understand Americana, and it is interwoven through every song on their new album.

2. Campbell Harrison Dig the Motion

Multi-faceted Americana songwriter Campbell Harrison released his fourth studio album, Dig The Motion, on April 1st of this year. The Georgia native described this album as being very much “me,” and he talked to us in-depth about it in an earlier interview. The album focuses on the notion of perseverance and growth, a reminder that everyone needs these days. With his sharp and introspective lyrics, beaming vocal delivery, and sparkling acoustic instrumentation, Harrison delivers an easy-on-the-ears collection of songs in the new EP. It’s a triumphant and resounding record, and if authentic songwriting truly reigned supreme as it should, this Nashville songsmith would be right up there in the mix.

1. Reilly Downes Spent

The “Sad Cowgirl Music” songstress, Reilly Downes, delivers some heavy-hitters on her new Honky Tonk-inspired EP, Spent. The album lets us hear the music that has helped shaped Downes, with influences ranging from rock and roll, country waltz, folk, and more. Her EP exquisitely embodies the sad cowgirl spirit, making it easy to sing along to whether you’re riding horseback in the country, or on a simple drive through town.

Note* Paul Howard contributed to this article.

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