2022 was an excellent year for prog music fans, with several old favorites releasing surprisingly strong new albums. Here are my favorites, in alphabetical order:
The Bardic Depths: Promises of Hope
No sophomore slump for these guys! Promises of Hope is even better than their excellent debut. Dave Bandana’s composing and singing is terrific, and Brad Birzer’s lyrics plumb new depths. Let’s hope their partnership is a long and fruitful one.
Big Big Train: Welcome to the Planet
This release came quickly after Common Ground, and is the last to feature the late David Longden, but it is by no means an “Odds and Sods” collection. It is a heartwarming album with some of BBT’s best-ever songs – Proper Jack Foster is an instant classic.
The Dear Hunter: Antimai
Casey Crescenzo’s Dear Hunter has one of the most unique sounds in music today, combining alt-pop, hot jazz, and prog jams. And it’s all good! Antimai is a concept album about a society where different classes of people live in concentric rings of a city. The poorest live in the outermost, and the most powerful live in the inner tower. I have listened to Antimai many times this year, and I always hear new and entrancing details.
Evership: The Uncrowned King, Act 2
Evership’s Uncrowned King Act 2 concludes their musical interpretation of Harold Bell Wright’s allegory. If you are a fan of classic ’70s prog, then you will love this album.
Galahad: The Last Great Adventurer
These long-time prog vets released a very satisfying set of songs in 2022. Blood, Skin, and Bone is one of the best songs of the year – melodic, heavy, with an excellent message: how external factors influence how we react to each other. One of my most-listened-to albums of the past few months.
Glass Hammer: At The Gate
The concluding chapter in Glass Hammer’s Skallagrim saga is the best. You can read my review here. Glass Hammer is the finest American prog rock group, period. It is astounding how they have maintained such high quality over such a long career. As The Years Go By is another top song of 2022.
King’s X: Three Sides of One
Fourteen(!) years after their last studio album, this hard rock/prog trio surprised everyone with one of their best albums ever. From the blistering funk of Let It Rain to the beautiful ballad Nothing But The Truth, King’s X have never sounded better. What a joy to hear them play again!
Jonas Lindberg and The Other Side: Miles From Nowhere
If I had to pick the single best album of 2022, Jonas Lindberg and the Other Side’s Miles From Nowhere would be it. It was released early in 2022, and I still listen to it regularly. It is full of delightful pop/rock hooks performed with excellent musicianship. I have listened to this album dozens of times, and I’m still not tired of it.
David Longden: Door One
This posthumous release of David Longden’s solo album only emphasizes what a loss the world suffered with his passing. It is not an unfinished set of sketches, but a complete and masterfully produced album. Love Is All is one of his finest songs, and a fitting conclusion to an amazing musical career.
The Porcupine Tree: Closure/Continuation
Another big surprise from a progrock veteran! I never thought Steven Wilson would work with Richard Barbieri and Gavin Harrison again, but here we are, and the music is pretty darn magnificent. Dignity is another PT classic, and here’s hoping there’s more music coming from them in the future.
Shearwater: The Great Awakening
This was a new discovery for me. I love late-era Talk Talk, and The Great Awakening sounds like something Mark Hollis would put together if he were still alive. No Reason is one of the most haunting songs I’ve ever heard.
Tears for Fears: The Tipping Point
Yet another surprise release from longtime musical veterans! Usually, when I hear a beloved artist from the ’80s is getting to put out new music, I get very apprehensive. Let’s face it, the ’80s were forty years ago, and the chances of rekindling the magic are very small. However, Tears for Fears’ The Tipping Point is one of the best albums of 2022, and one of the best of their career. Not a throwaway song in the bunch, and they sound as good as ever. Rivers of Mercy is my favorite, but every single song is a winner.
Devin Townsend: Lightwork
Devin Townsend is one of the most fascinating artists working today. You never know what style his latest album will be: brutally hard rock, country, ambient, pop? Lightwork is a relatively quiet entry in his vast catalog, but it rewards repeated listens. The crunchy guitars crunch, the soaring vocals soar, and the endlessly satisfying melodies pour out of the speakers (or earbuds). So far, I think Lightwork is in Townsend’s top five best.
And there you have it: a baker’s dozen of great albums from the year 2022. The most satisfying trend is the number of great albums produced by artists after a long absence: King’s X, Porcupine Tree, and Tears for Fear. I hope they don’t wait as long to release their next albums!