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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

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

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)

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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.