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The Soul Show’s Top Ten Albums, 2022

Hugo Cruz, Backyard Stage, Summer 2022

Welcome to the 2022 presentation of The Soul Show’s Top Ten Albums.  It’s that time of year when I collect playlists, review brain-etched and written scribble, and gather up late-year releases to binge on twelve months of great music.  This year felt like quite a trove, so the work was hard but fun.  I didn’t add the burden of ranking from one to ten.  For each of you, something will bubble up for a different reason.  Enjoy.

Hugo Cruz y CaminosPunta de PartidoThis Cuban percussionist has taken Pittsburgh by storm, live and in recording. See my April writeup.
MonophonicsSage MotelNice retro soulscape from this West Coast band, with horns dancing beautifully. They came to my attention years ago, thanks to Ben Penigar of Grey Area Productions.
Free RadicalsWhite Power Outage, Volume 2This album is “huffy” with a Latin and Native American bent.  I love “Gitmo” and “Bipartisan.”  How’d I miss Volume 1?
VariousTake Me To The River: New OrleansI’m a sucker for ensemble casts.  Ledisi belts it out on “Knockin’” with the second-generation Nevilles (of Dumpstaphunk) in support.  The Big Easy’s Irma Thomas and Galactic are some of the other happy pieces of this puzzle. See my July article.
Fantastic NegritoWhite Jesus Black ProblemsThis is the second Top Ten in three years for Negrito.  As I mentioned in the City Paper in June, this album was so incredible that I didn’t have to wait until December to see how things played out.
Lisa Marie Simmons & Marco ChremaschiniNoteSpeak 12Spoken word over jazzish backdrop is Lisa Marie’s forte.  One of my favorites, the track “Blaze” is a creative blast about mundane things.
Sarah Elizabeth CharlesBlank CanvasThis was one album that definitely merited a deeper dive after several early TSS plays.  It’s heavy when you’re in the mood for heavy.    
George Johnson, Jr.Your Majesty | Walk Spirit Talk SpiritWhat a wonderful voice.  On Johnson’s website, the album is described as “hip and refreshing as it honors the fundamentals of jazz and mindful storytelling.” Note to admirers of Pittsburgh’s Eddie Jefferson: this gentleman is hailed by some as a carrier of the vocalese torch.
Chicago Soul Jazz CollectiveChicago Soul Jazz Collective Meets Dee AlexanderHere’s a new band on my radar. Their name is what they are. Singer Dee Alexander brings so much.  Can she stay awhile?
Mama’s GunCure The JonesThey are a solid Brit-soul group with a semi-retro sound, plus great harmonies.  Chill with this one.

The Soul Show features its Top Top Albums on December 31.

Mike Canton is the longtime host and producer of The Soul Show, airing on local radio stations WZUM and WIUP. The program is syndicated in seven markets in the U.S. and Caribbean. Canton is also a Pittsburgh-area voice artist.

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