Paste Magazine adds John Dee Graham to their list of Overlooked Albums of 2023

When we read stories titled “The Best Songs of the Year” or “The Best Albums of the Year,” an unacknowledged phrase should be added: “… of All Those I Happened To Hear.” These lists are not like a political election where a limited number of candidates are on the ballot, and one is asked to choose from among them. Music critics are instead asked to choose from the tens of thousands of releases in a given year, far more than any one human being can hear. The choices may not be infinite, but they can seem that way.

So each critic’s list reflects not only one’s definition of excellence but also what particular corner of the musical universe one has focused on. My own list, for example, is light on hip-hop, dance-pop, punk-rock, classical music and foreign-language music. And that’s not because I dislike those genres; I often find things I like in all those categories. I loved last year’s albums by Killer Mike, Olivia Rodgrigo, 100 Gecs, Gustavo Dudamel and Karol G. But life is short, and I tend to turn towards the areas where I have a higher batting average of finding pleasure.

As a result, my list is heavy on jazz, Americana, roots-rock and country. That tilt is both the weakness and the strength of my list. A weakness, because it doesn’t accurately reflect the music marketplace of 2023. A strength, because it’s more likely to lead readers to undiscovered gems unmentioned on other lists. I don’t claim to have found all the best records; I only claim that these are truly great musical achievements that can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of genre preferences. These are the best “… of All Those I Happened To Hear.”


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