2022 was a great year for music. Though it’s hard to say definitively, this might be my favorite of the decade to date. As I look back on the musical offerings I see a wide variety of options for every listening taste, as so many artists revealed the art formed while they were forced from their normal rhythms of travel and live shows the past few years. There are threads of frustration, anxiety, deconstruction and reconstruction, relational struggles, and calls for the Church to wake from its slumber, but all communicated with hope. All this spread out among the industry stalwarts and rising independent Christian music scene as the line between professional and semi-professional continues to blur. I enjoyed some of all of it, and you can get a little taste of everything I was into with My Top 100 Songs of 2022 Playlist.

Also, if you’re interested I made a list of 50 Album Recommendations from 2022 that I pulled my Top 20 from. Just, in case you like another genre (Aka hard rock) more than I typically do.

Below, are the albums from both the Christian market (whatever that means anymore) and the fringes, where I am increasingly finding myself drawn. There’s the return of a genre-shaping rapper, a nautical rock concept album, some singer-songwriters with poetic provocations, pop/rock artists, congregational worship tunes, radio-radio pop, albums from two artists I saw in concert during the calendar year, a country record, and even a heavy album made the list this year. My biggest attempt to stretch myself as a listener this year was to listen to music more for the “vibe” or “feel” than the “lyrics.” It was an attempt worth the effort, and I’m glad I did it as several albums made the list because of the criteria. All in all though, I’m still high on the lyrics of these records, and they are the ones that got the most play from me in 2022. For those who like to nerd out about numbers, I’ll include some stats on my album streams from Lastfm.com so you can see behind the curtain of my listening habits if you wish.

The Top 20 is around the corner, but before we dive in…check out the five honorable mentions that just missed the list. They are also worthy of some attention, with several songs from each one making my 2022 playlist. Lastly, hit me up with your feedback, and your favorites from the year. Though I listen to a lot of music, I’m sure something slipped my ears. I just heard a song for the first time on the 9th of December that I just had to add to the playlist. So, if you enjoyed something you don’t see here, let me know in the comments and as always, thanks for reading! I genuinely hope you find some new music to love. With that…Here are the Jukebox Junkie’s Top 20 Albums of 2022

Honorable Mentions:

Various ArtistsBellsburg: The Songs of Rich Mullins

Various Artists116 Summer 2022 Mixtape

Norma Jean Deathrattle Sing For Me

LevvyBury EP

AnberlinSilverline EP

20. Plead the Widows CausePain Split

80 Album Scrobbles

Post-hardcore with punk-leanings, this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it eight songs in under twenty five minute album impressed me. It’s the rare heavy album to keep me coming back and earned its spot just inside the Top 20.

Favorite Song: “Drug of Choice”

Favorite Lyric(s): I can feel the fog of another day/it grips at my uncertainty.” – “Drug of Choice”

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

Full Review

19. Ben RectorJoy of Music

108 Album Scrobbles

This long-time family favorite didn’t disappoint with his contagious and fun piano-pop getting plenty of plays in the car this year.

Favorite Song: “Dream On”

Favorite Lyric(s): “Dream on/Dream on/Even when you’re afraid all your dreams may be gone/Just dream on.” – “Dream On”

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

18. LovknHome Called Heaven

136 Album Scrobbles

One of the artists on this list I was able to see live this year. Guy and guitar with alot of passion. At times playful, other times worshipful, there’s a good mix present.

Favorite Song: “Obsession With Eyes”

Favorite Lyric(s): “I need to free/This heart and mind that just wants me to be/Defined by what’s on the outside/The way I look in the mirror, the kind of songs that I write/Defined by how many likes/Oh, I have an obsession with eyes I’ve been trying to fight.” – “Obsession with Eyes”

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

17. Joshua LeventhalAll Ye LEPERS

58 Album Scrobbles

I latched on to this singer/songwriter album late, and came to it through the song “The Gallows” which is the biggest standout. Other highlights of this newer artist are “Substance” and “The Meantime.”

Favorite Song: “The Gallows”

Favorite Lyric(s): “I’ve been mixing my metaphors when it comes to You/‘Cause I’m a son, I’m a bride, the acquitted, and the accused/And I know those last two are the other way around/‘Cause I’m no longer lost but I forget that I’m found/And You paid all of my debt but I still live like the rent is due.” – “The Gallows”

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

16. Brooke LigertwoodSeven (Live)

122 Album Scrobbles

Seven is easily the best congregational-directed album of 2022. Brooke continues her excellent songwriting honed with Hillsong United. “A Thousand Hallelujah’s” and “Honey in the Rock” along with “Nineveh” make up my favorites, but the whole thing is solid.

Favorite Song: “Nineveh”

Favorite Lyric(s): Nineveh, oh Nineveh/The Lord is turning toward you/Holy Spirit, help me see/Where there is Nineveh in me/Turn away Your wrath once more/God have mercy/Perfect prophet, priest and King/Christ became the reckoning/In His body bore my sin/Now to all who trust in Him.” – “Nineveh”

Overall Album Rating: 4.5 Stars

Full Album Review

15. Rusty ShippDark Side of the Ocean

79 Album Scrobbles

The indie nautical rockers return with their most complete concept album. It’s grungy, fuzzy, tells a story, and “Living Waters” rips, taking the top spot by the band to date do this listener.

Favorite Song: “Living Waters”

Favorite Lyric(s): N/A

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

Full Album Review

14. Anne WilsonMy Jesus

69 Album Scrobbles

Don’t let the lower scrobble count fool you as I streamed this a lot off-line while prepping the review. Anne Wilson’s brand of nu-country mixed with American gothic styling was my biggest surprise enjoyment of the year. If you listen to the radio you’ve heard “My Jesus” but also worth a listen are “God Thing” “Scatter” “Devil” and “Hey Girl.”

Favorite Song: “God Thing”

Favorite Lyric(s):Cloud by day, fire by night
He’s been showing up all my life
Brand new mercies every sunrise
Too many miracles to deny
” – “God Thing”

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

Full Album Review

13. For King & CountryWhat Are We Waiting For?

170 Album Scrobbles

While I enjoyed this record, it was really my kids who did the most listening. There’s several radio-ready jams and their brand of electro-pop was easy to return to. The first half of the album is littered with great tracks.

Favorite Song: “God is With Us”

Favorite Lyric(s): N/A

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

Full Album Review

12. Tyson MostenbockerMilk Teeth

68 Album Scrobbles

Lyrics? Masterclass. Specific to his era and life experiences while retaining universal appeal. Musically? I’m not as on board with the sonics but this will likely be an album that “clicks” with me next year and I’d be mad to have left it off the list.

Favorite Song: “Oh, No (Regarding Panic Attacks)”

Favorite Lyric(s):The things we love will take a piece of us away” – “Time is a One Way Mirror”

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

Full Album Review

11. ColorvaultFaint

100 Album Scrobbles

This whole album is a vibe. Indie worship artist Young Oceans joins forces with A. Bishai and Alex Taylor to add a little more pep to the YO chill formula.

Favorite Song: “Shall Be Forever”

Favorite Lyric(s): I’ve been haunted/I’ve been afraid (Afraid)/I’ve been fearful (Been fearful)/But I’ve been waiting.” – “Dwell in Your House”

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

10. Jetty RaeTime Traveler

120 Album Scrobbles

Sultry and soothing indie singer-songwriter gets high marks from me again. This is the kind of record I can put on repeat at work.

Favorite Song: “Better Now”

Favorite Lyric(s): “Being brave in this civil war/doesn’t mean she’s broken like she was before/she’s not bitter/she’s just better now.” – “Better Now”

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

Full Album Review

9. The RiversideMythos and Petra

101 Album Scrobbles

Previously unknown to me, Americana/Bluegrass band The Riverside delivered a nice surprise that I returned to often. Recommended by fellow JFH staffer John Underdown, I’m glad he pointed me in their direction. I may just have to hunt down the vinyl of Mythos & Petra.

Favorite Song: “Talos”

Favorite Lyric(s): “Tell me where I’m supposed to go/From here/And if you do/Come break this heart
From the stone it’s turned into
.” – “Talos”

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

8. Wild EarthWeary Hymns Along the Way

114 Album Scrobbles

I have two people to thank…1. JFH staffer Joel Zaloum who wrote the review and brought it up as a highlight at the midway point of the year 2. JFH Podcast host and friend Chase Tremaine who later reminded me of it while also pointing out some nuances that helped me take hold of this electronic, sometimes 80s sounding devotional album. Thanks fellas!

Favorite Song: “O the Mystery”

Favorite Lyric(s):From the ashes of my doubts/hallelujah’s singing out/All the days of unbelief/Hosanna now repeats/O the mystery.” – “O the Mystery”

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

Full Album Review

7. Kings KaleidoscopeBaptized Imagination

183 Album Scrobbles

Man did I have to work to fully appreciate this album from Kings Kaleidoscope. It’s short, clipped songs started as a frustrating listen, feeling incomplete…but finally the genius clicked and it’s a great experience with each subsequent listen. “Water Wasted” is another favorite in addition to the exuberant “Joy.”

Favorite Song: “Water Wasted” or “Joy”

Favorite Lyric(s): You’re the only magic living in my memories/Majesty imagine what I see to worship you now/Rising in the rush you pick me up and hold me/Hallelujah hallelujah holy moments with you/I’m settling” – “Joy”

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

Full Album Review

6. Gable Price & FriendsThe Consequence of Being Alive

114 Album Scrobbles

This is not meant as a slight, but this is the Colony House/Switchfoot album I didn’t get this year. Leaning heavy into their influences and into the horizontal relationship song space may have disappointed some fans of the stellar Fractioned Heart. Not me. That record was alway gonna be tough to top. There’s a looser, and almost playful feel to some of these songs and I’m here for it.

Favorite Song: “Tough Love”

Favorite Lyric(s): “Is it really heroic to be broken on purpose/Is there some kind of honor to keep living in the dark/Is it really heroic to be broken on purpose/Or is it treason to your heart” – “Treason”

Overall Album Rating: 4 Stars

Full Album Review

4. Drew MillerThere Will Be Surprises

113 Album Scrobbles

Oh I was taken aback/surprised by this one for sure. So many great lyrical moments set to thoughtful acoustic guitar and piano Melody’s. I can’t recommend this one enough if you like the approach of fellow indie artists Jon Guerra and John Van Deusen.

Favorite Song: “There Will Be Surprises” or “Nothing is Right Side Up”

Favorite Lyric(s): “You can bet that Babylon was pretty/With gardens lining every gate/What could sink this holy city/But its own weight?/So when every child from hidden corners/Who now escapes your line of sight/Inherits kingdoms with the mourners/Don’t be surprised/Oh, there will be surprises” – “There Will Be Surprises”

My Full Review

Overall Album Rating: 4.5 Stars

4. LecraeChurch Clothes 4

137 Album Scrobbles

Lecrae has taken CHH places it had only dared dream. He’s also taken some lumps and been through some trauma both done to him as well as the self inflicted variety. He vulnerably shares it all on the last Church Clothes Album (part 4). This is (maybe) his best overall album yet. “Spread the Opps” “Dirt” “Good Lord” “Still in America” and “Deconstruction” are all superb.

Favorite Song: “Spread the Opps” or “Good Lord”

Favorite Lyric(s): All of closer “Deconstruction” or “Still in America”

Overall Album Rating: 4.5 Stars

Full Album Review

3. Half*AliveConditions of a Punk

112 Album Scrobbles

Dangerously waiting until December to release the full album I quickly took to the eleven previously unheard songs paired with the Give Me Your Shoulders ep. All together this forms a pop/rock gem with many killer hooks and lyrical lines. I also saw these guys perform live in February and it was an Audio visual treat. Very entertaining.

Favorite Song: “Nobody” or “Everything Machine” or “What’s Wrong”

Favorite Lyric(s):It’s hard to be someone/and it hurts to be nobody.” – “Nobody”

Overall Album Rating: 4.5 Stars

2. Madison Cunningham – Revealer

203 Album Scrobbles

Astonishingly great. Revealer is quickly rising up the list of all-time favorites with each repeat listen.

Favorite Song: “Hospital” or “Life According to Rachael”

Favorite Lyric(s): “Good girl, got some bad in her/Cussing like a drunk, driving with her knees/Quarter to quarter, dealing with the torture/Of living high to not feel low/Spеnding more to not feel broke.” – “Sunshine Over the Counter”

Overall Album Rating: 4.5 Stars

Madison Cunningham – Revealer Album Review

1. John Van DeusenI Am Origami Pt. 4: Marathon Daze

341 Album Scrobbles

It’s been roughly 5-6 years with the work of JVD and he’s dangerously close to joining the ranks of my all-time favorite artists like Jars of Clay, Switchfoot, Relient K, The Beatles, Coldplay, Billy Joel, etc. Marathon Days is the kind of record that comes along every so often that gives me hope for Christ-haunted art.

Favorite Song: “Oh Sweetest Name”

Favorite Lyric(s): “Free me, break me, fill me up with all your holy water/‘Cause I’m driving drunk in the night with one headlight/Bow down, low down, pledge yourself and all your sons and daughters/‘Cause we’re vying for a throne without a prayer or a birthright/Oh, sweetest name/Is this really who I am?/Do I need your love like a gun needs a hand?” – “Oh Sweetest Name”

Overall Album Rating: 5 Stars

Full JVD Review

Pay what you want for a stellar album over on his bandcamp HERE. Also, do yourself a favor and scroll just below the 21 tracks to read a moving piece he wrote concerning his heart behind the album. It’s a must.

That’s it! Here’s the last two years picks if you missed them:

Top 20 Albums of 2021, Josh Balogh’s Top 20 Albums of 2020