Gary’s Top 5 albums of 2023 in jazz, World roots, and Americana

My music coverage for Green Man Review focuses mainly on jazz, World roots, and Americana. And that matches the music I listen to personally as well, pretty much in that order. I’ve found that the lines between those three “genres” are pretty blurry, though, as we’ll see.

I wrote reviews for all but one of these selections, Howe Gelb’s Howard Alan at the Lowrey Organ, M. Ward’s Supernatural Thing, and Emma Rawicz’s Chroma, so click on each of the other albums if you want to read more about it. (Some of them are in omnibus reviews.) Here then are my Top 5 Albums of 2023 in each genre: jazz, World roots, and Americana.

cover, chromaGary’s Top 5 Jazz Albums of 2023


cover, AmerikabåtenGary’s Top 5 World Roots Albums of 2023



cover, HollowGary’s Top 5 Americana Albums of 2023

In putting together this list, I’ve noticed three strong trends.
The first that jumped out at me was that all my favorite World roots albums in 2023 were from Northern and Eastern Europe – Scandinavia, Finland, Russia, and the Caucasus and Balkans. A number of releases from Spain were on my honorable mention list.
And then there’s that blurring of the lines that I mentioned. Sinikka Langeland’s Wind And Sun could just as easily be classified with World music as jazz; Nils Økland & Sigbjørn Apeland draw on both jazz and folk improvization methods on their deeply somber collection Glimmer; and Trond Kallevåg’s Amerikabåten walks a fine line between Norwegian folk, jazz, and American country music, leading him to refer to it as “Nordic Americana.”
And speaking of Americana, four of my five picks there are by longtime favorites; I’ve been enjoying the music of The Handsome Family, Howe Gelb, M. Ward, and Teddy Thompson for at least 20 years. The trials and tribulations of 2023 obviously had me reaching for the aural equivalent of comfort food. And the young Margo Cilker is a formidable and talented songwriter and musician who fits right in with those stalwarts.

Here is a Spotify playlist (on which you can only listen to excerpts – so here’s a direct link to my playlist.) One note: Howe Gelb’s Howard Alan at the Lowrey Organ is not available on Spotify, so I’ve subbed a song by Viv & Riley, which was one of several close runners-up. And here’s a link to Gelb’s album on Bandcamp.

Gary Whitehouse

A fifth-generation Oregonian, Gary is a retired journalist and government communicator. Since the 1990s he has been covering music, books, food & drink and occasionally films, blogs and podcasts for Green Man Review. His main literary interests for GMR are science fiction, music lore, and food & cooking. A lifelong lover of music, his interests are wide ranging and include folk, folk rock, jazz, Americana, classic country, and roots based music from all over the world. He also enjoys dogs, birding, cooking, craft beer, and coffee.

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