Needle Movers: 10 from 6 – Our Favorite Music of 2022 So Far

Needle Movers is a new feature here on Galleywinter to highlight the music that is moving our needles…both on the turntable and in our souls.

In this edition we highlight the albums that have spoken to us throughout the first half of 2022. In no particular order.

Drew Kennedy – Marathon
We made the ballsy claim that Drew Kennedy is the best songwriter currently based within the borders of Texas when this album dropped and the 11 tracks on this magnificent follow-up to 2017’s opus At Home in the Big Lonesome were on par with their predecessors. Marathon is a rumination on life, love and the human experience through the lens of west Texas. Kennedy has always been at his best when telling stories, and the minimalist adobe house recordings rendered here find him accentuating those strengths to an expert level.

Bobby Duncan – Maybe This Time
Over a decade in the making, Maybe This Time finds Fort Worth’s Duncan presenting songs about growing up, finding love and life’s general peaks and valleys. This collection of songs was poured over by Duncan and his main co-writer Donovan Dodd to a degree that is evident in the output. Produced alongside Chris Watson, the songs soar when needed, dip when appropriate and meld the best of Duncan’s strongest influences: Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne and Walt Wilkins.

Kevin Galloway – Secondhand Starlight
The former Uncle Lucius front man returns with his second solo offering, which finds him mining the same powerful vocals over laidback grooves. His Gulf Country sounds are easygoing slices of life that put the listener in distinct places and locales with the narration of one of the most distinct voices to ever rise from this state.

Kaitlin Butts – What Else Can She Do
Sonically somewhere between Kacey Musgraves, Billie Eilish and outer space, yet lyrically firmly entrenched in Oklahoma, Texas and reality, Butts displays strong artistic growth, conviction and direction. She’s managed to create a movement and a brand from the strength of well-crafted and supremely produced songs.

American Aquarium – Chicamacomico
Nobody provides listeners with the proverbial lyrical gut punch better than BJ Barham, and on his latest AA release he’s gotten about as low as he can go with subject matter. Barham’s bandmates continually and adeptly contrast the downturns of prose with bright, full, layered musical arrangements that present a compelling musical companion to true life.

The Wilder Blue – self-titled
After a halting false start with the generic name Hill Country, Zane Williams’ super group returns with an impressive group of songs. Williams and Paul Eason lead with pen and voice, but this is an entire group effort that distills harmonies, melodies, lyrics and overall musicality into a pleasant listen that makes you keep pressing repeat.

Ian Noe – River Fools and Mountain Saints
Continually compared to John Prine, this Kentucky songwriter gives further reason for those comparisons with this magnificently dense collection of characters and songs. Appalachia has never sounded more intriguing, mysterious and beautiful all at once.

Grady Spencer and the Work – Wait
Despite the title, this album is an introspective take on inner struggles that actually brims with optimism and some delectable riffs. Spencer and company are no longer waiting for their due, this album announces that they are here to make you tap your feet…and think.

49 Winchester – Fortune Favors the Bold
Oftentimes, bands singing songs about being in a band can come off as cliché and trite. That is not the case here. Frontman and principal songwriter Isaac Gibson weaves tales of the road and details thoughts of home and pins them all together with a melting pot of southern sounds from country to rock to blues.

Lyle Lovett – 12th of June
Lovett is a master songwriter unbeholden to genres or traditions. He chases his muse wherever it goes and then frames his stories in an off-kilter manner that made him a Texas legend over four decades ago. On this most recent release, Lovett provides slices of each iteration of his artistic qualities that have made him a household name worldwide. This is a Texas songwriting legend proving that he’s still got his fastball.

With full albums on the way from Bri Bagwell, Wade Bowen and Kat Hasty, it’s safe to say that this list will have some new company come December.

Brad Beheler

Raised in Waco, refined in the Hill Country, escaped from DFW. I've worked in just about every facet of the music business for 20 years. I like to write about it all. e-mail Brad Editor-in-Chief