Top 20 Albums of 2021

After a wild 2020, 2021 was filled with inspired music for the blues rock genre. Once again, a record number of votes were cast for this year’s top 20 albums list. Blues Rock Review’s Top 20 Albums of 2021 was compiled with the fans counting for 50% of the vote and the Blues Rock Review staff counting for the other 50%.

Here are Blues Rock Review’s Top 20 Albums of 2021.


20. Ally Venable: Heart Of Fire

“Ally stuns with another rock-solid release. The fact is that she is no longer a promising act, as some say, but rather an already established artist that puts out great record after another. Get yourself this album and you’ll know what I’m talking about.” – Fidel Beserra

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


19. Eliana Cargnelutti: Aur

“On Aur, all songs are written by Eliana, who also did the production and arrangements, which we have to mention are flawless. It’s very comforting to see how women are pioneering and conquering their deserved space in blues rock. Aside from names like Danielle Nicole, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Samantha Fish, Shemekia Copeland, Eliana Cargnelutti is also tracking a solid path in the genre. Definitely, Aur is a huge contribution in that sense, where Eliana clearly adds new colors, sounds, and tunes with her music.” – Marcel Innocentini

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


 18. Mike Zito: Resurrection 

Resurrection was produced by the notorious David Z, famous for his collaborations with artists such as Prince, Etta James and Buddy Guy. The record is comprised of eight originals and three covers and offers the listener an enjoyable experience of blues and rock. Resurrection is definitely a high-standard effort from a high-caliber musician. Don’t miss it.” – Fidel Beserra

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


17. Dirty Honey: Dirty Honey

“Dirty Honey sounds like rock and roll. That overwhelming amp crunch with a sweet high-end reverberation is as close to perfection as an avid listener could want. The mark is made in their first full-length debut. There exists a thread of big British bands who scrape at the ceilings of giant sound. There are also tight, compact American-style rockers. Dirty Honey appears to be one of the latter. Drinking from the same trough as bands like Guns N’ Roses and Audioslave, this quartet provides a great set of punchy ditties.” – Willie Witten

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


16. Joanna Connor: 4801 South Indiana Avenue

“Tasteful and judicious use of extra-musical sounds, great horn arrangements, and the many clever lyrical turns of phrase are just a few treats that are left for fans to discover themselves. The album delights from cover to cover and each individual song reveals new gems with each listen. 4801 South Indiana Avenue might be Joanna Connor’s best, and its bold, powerful character suggests that her next may likely be even better.” – Willie Witten

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


15. Eric Johanson: Covered Tracks Vol. 1

“Like so many others forced to adapt to an unwelcoming pandemic environment, Eric Johanson has spun a difficult situation into a successful artistic project. Covered Tracks: Vol. 1 serves as an example of an artist unafraid to leave the studio gloss behind and offer listeners an honest look into his musical background. The no-frills blues stylings should please aficionados while the far-flung choices might draw newcomers as they get a look at the flexibility of the blues through the eyes of a talented musician.” – Willie Witten

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


14. Eddie 9V: Little Black Flies

Little Black Flies impresses from cover to cover. There are no weak songs. As with any album, some tracks will appeal more to some listeners as opposed to others, but for anyone who likes blues, soul, or funk, the mix of genres should be very appealing. The triple threat of Eddie 9V, his band, and his brother Lane Kelly create some lush, raw, and colorful music that is leaps and bounds ahead of Left My Soul In Memphis. And that album was also high quality. This is the type of album that can put an artist on the map.” – Willie Witten

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


13. The Black Keys: Delta Kream

Delta Kream is versatile in that it serves as a great entry point for either Hill Country Blues or The Black Keys. The duo deserves credit for acknowledging part of their musical inspiration not just in words and plaudits, but by giving back to the genre in their own original way.” – Willie Witten

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


12. Bluhauz: Bluhauz

“Bluhauz delivers with his self-titled debut album. It’s one of the better rock releases in 2021. The album is filled with great hooks, excellent guitar, and well crafted songs. Jump on the train because Bluhauz is ready to purify your soul with fresh rock and roll.” – Pete Francis

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


11. Adrian Smith/Richie Kotzen: Smith/Kotzen

“The stated goal of Smith/Kotzen was to create an album that could hold its own against other classic rock albums. It does. Adrian Smith and Richie Kotzen incorporate some of the best aspects of ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s hard rock while imbuing more-than-enough originality to make the Smith/Kotzen duo more than just a passing fancy. For listeners familiar with either artist, the album is not to be missed, and for those late to the party, Smith/Kotzen serves as the perfect vehicle to get acquainted with two of today’s premier rock musicians.” – Willie Witten

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


10. Joanne Shaw Taylor: The Blues Album

“Intending to be a classic blues recording, The Blues Album checks a number of boxes that qualify it to be one of the top albums of 2021. Not only is it another exquisite Bonamassa & Smith production, but the album also showcases clean guitar tones, pianos, and horns performed by aces like themselves along with Reese Wynans (keyboards), Greg Morrow (drums), Steve Mackey (bass), Steve Patrick (trumpet), Mark Douthit (sax), Barry Green (trombone). For all this, there’s no doubt that Joanne picked not only the right time to do this album but all these incredible songs as well.” – Marcel Innocentini

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


9. When Rivers Meet: Saving Grace

“When Rivers Meet has proven to bring a new blues rock appeal that is rocking the scene, effectively contributing to the lifting of the genre all over the UK and continental Europe as well. Saving Grace is an outstanding album that keeps the band at the gold standard of the current blues rock scene.” – Marcel Innocentini

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


8. Greta Van Fleet: The Battle At Garden’s Gate

“More of an expansion than a basic revisitation of past work, everything on The Battle at Garden’s Gate is bigger. The songs are as original as they are excellent and the musicianship outstanding. Greta Van Fleet authentically loves what they do and that is good news for fans who want to focus on the music.” – Willie Witten

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


7. Robert Jon and the Wreck: Shine A Light On Me Brother

“Robert Jon and the Wreck are a United States based band that is carving out a nice audience in the UK and Europe but deserves a wider audience worldwide. This is one of the best blues rock band’s in the world today. The musicianship is topnotch, the songs are great, and this is a band that can be appreciated by a wide variety of listeners. Shine A Light On Me Brother is Robert Jon and the Wreck’s best album to date which is saying a lot. It’s a great album from start to finish.” – Pete Francis

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


6. Gov’t Mule: Heavy Load Blues

“Along their almost 30 years on the road, Gov’t Mule remains as a jam-rock band that honors all their influences. But their essence, the rock soul, is always there, either playing reggae or a blues tune.” – Marcel Innocentini

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


5. Samantha Fish: Faster

Faster is an unorthodox release that revigorates blues rock and pushes the genre’s boundaries. It can also be a hint of the direction Samantha will take on her career. Anyway or the other, the album stands on its own as a rock-solid and enjoyable effort.” – Fidel Beserra

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


4. Ghost Hounds: A Little Calamity

“Ghost Hounds are currently one of the most promising American blues rock bands. The record has the band at the highest level, and their power-packed blues rock sound, once again, doesn’t fail to impress. A Little Calamity is arguably one of the best albums of the year and one more offering that demonstrates why rock music is far from dead. And Ghost Hounds, as it seems, are just getting started.” – Fidel Beserra

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


3. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram: 662

“Following his critically-acclaimed eponymous debut, Kingfish, Christone Ingram returns with an album whose content and character similarly reflect its title. If Kingfish were the person, 662 is the place, and the music within reaches beyond the straightforward blues-guitar explosion of the first offering, while simultaneously providing listeners with a more intimate look at the man behind the guitar. 662 recertifies Kingfish as a young, but quickly maturing artist with immense technical talent and an understanding of music that is deep enough and wide enough to continue to branch out into seemingly any genre.” – Willie Witten

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


2. The Damn Truth: Now Or Nowhere

“The Damn Truth achieves their planned objective and successfully spreads a message of love and hope through great music with Now or Nowhere, which is a strong contender for one of the best albums of the year and a superb addition to any blues/rock fan’s music library.” – Fidel Beserra

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)


1. Joe Bonamassa: Time Clocks

“At this stage, Joe Bonamassa has very little left to prove but with Time Clocks, Bonamassa delivers his best album since The Ballad of John Henry. Bonamassa really digs deep lyrically on this album and it feels more personal. Of course, there is great guitar, but Joe’s songwriting has never been better. From start to finish, Time Clocks is a winner and shows why Bonamassa’s run as the current blues rock king is nowhere near over.” – Pete Francis

(Buy: Amazon | Amazon UK)

Previous Top 20 Lists: 2020, 2019, 2018201720162015, 201420132012, 2011
*Editor’s note: Live albums and EPs are not included in the Top 20*

10 thoughts on “Top 20 Albums of 2021

  • December 15, 2021 at 10:20 am
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    Joe deserves this honor most assuredly! I have been a fan for sometime now and wonder if his approach toward album making changed with this one. He’s said in the past, “wood-shopping” was not how he liked to work. He said it was usually the 1st take where you get that extra 10%. Maybe it was the extra time in the writing of the songs that paid these amazing benefits that we’re enjoying today?

    Reply
  • December 15, 2021 at 10:49 am
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    Joe gets a lot of criticism over his popularity, but man Time Clocks was a REALLY good album. Glad to see Kingfish at #3 too. He’s got a long bright future ahead of him.

    Reply
  • December 15, 2021 at 12:11 pm
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    No votes for Dion’s ‘Stomping Ground’. This vote must be a fraud !

    Reply
    • December 15, 2021 at 1:50 pm
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      Roy,

      I voted for Dion. I have been listening to him since I was a teenager. I am pleased that 8 of the albums that I voted for ended up in the Top 20!

      Reply
  • December 15, 2021 at 12:42 pm
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    Fortunate enough to have seen Joe B. at the Hayloft Saloon in Mt. Clemens, MI in 2006. It was easy to know this guy was goin’ places! Should be a fun ride for the next 15-20 yrs. ’til his self predicted retirement.

    Reply
  • December 15, 2021 at 2:02 pm
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    Hooray!

    Congratulations Joe for the #1 slot. No surprises here. Been a fan since 2000. If you have not seen Joe in concert – start saving for tickets. Guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience!

    Reply
  • December 15, 2021 at 5:33 pm
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    Not having The Georgia Thunderbolts album in there is a crime.

    Reply
  • December 15, 2021 at 11:16 pm
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    WOW! Dion’s “Blues With Friends” not in the top 20? Listen to it folks, you’ll hear it was a mistake for it not to be in

    Reply
  • December 16, 2021 at 9:28 am
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    “Heavy Shoes” by the Cold Stares should have been on this list, hands down. I own quite a few of the albums already on this list and the Cold Stares album tops them. Check them out… thanks.

    Reply
  • December 17, 2021 at 11:46 am
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    This is an Absolutely Grrreat News! Joe is hard working man and talented musician, he really deserved this success. The lyrics are filled with deep meaning and true feeling. I’m proud to be Joe’s fan

    Reply

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