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NPR Music 2022 Staff Picks: Ann Powers

Anna Tivel
Vincent Bancheri
Courtesy of the artist
Anna Tivel

Today we experience so much noise, and often without thinking turn it into an infinite soundtrack. I wake up to my alarm's little snippet of Joan Shelley's "Amberlit Morning" and head to the kitchen, where the smart refrigerator beeps and the coffeemaker zings. I walk outside, and Bad Bunny plays on a worker's truck radio as I walk the dog, while the groans of the garbage trucks mingle with the whoosh of the accordion bus and a train whistle in the distance. All of this competes with and feeds the sound-bit memory loops in my own head: the song that lingers from that movie I watched last night, that anthem the band played at the show a week ago, the tearjerker I only listen to when I'm alone.

Multi-tasking is a myth, and while multidirectional hearing is possible, listening requires focus. Meaningful encounters with sound both create and demand the kind of openness that comes with a little time. The abundance of albums with strong shapes this year is a gift. They made and marked the space around me, and within.

(I've also made a playlist of 100 songs that stuck with me this year, all of which helped stretch my listening experience into a new shape. You can hear it here.)

Top 10 Albums of 2022


1. Anna Tivel, Outsiders
2. Silvana Estrada, Marchita
3. Jockstrap, I Love You Jennifer B
4. Stromae, Multitude
5. Tommy McLain, I Ran Down Every Dream
6. Fontaines D.C., Skinty Fia
7. Hurray for the Riff Raff, LIFE ON EARTH
8. Leyla McCalla, Breaking the Thermometer
9. Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler, For All Our Days That Tear the Heart
10. Gang of Youths, angel in realtime.

(Read more of Ann Powers' picks for the best music of 2022)

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Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.