Each year there is a clutch of records that fit no specific category, borrowing a bit from rock, country, folk, and soul, and 2012 was no exception. This year, there were plenty of good albums that could be labeled Americana, including Kelly Hogan's powerful I Like to Keep Myself in Pain, Alejandro Escovedo's riotous Big Station, Ry Cooder's wry rollicking political manifesto Election Special, the first solo albums from Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers and Craig Finn of the Hold Steady, the sly old-timey stomps of Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Bonnie Raitt's elegant, soulful Slipstream. Elsewhere, the Lumineers turned folk into gold on their debut, rockabilly queen Janis Martin's Rosie Flores-produced last session saw the light of day, and Sara Watkins approximated some SoCal sunniness on her second solo album, Sun Midnight Sun, all adding up to a fine year in Americana.

Calexico - Algiers
Carolina Chocolate Drops - Leaving Eden
Ry Cooder - Election Special
Iris DeMent - Sing the Delta
Luther Dickinson - Hambone's Meditations
Alejandro Escovedo - Big Station
Father John Misty - Fear Fun
Craig Finn - Clear Heart Full Eyes
Rosie Flores - Working Girl's Guitar
Kelly Hogan - I Like to Keep Myself in Pain
Patterson Hood - Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance
The Lumineers - Lumineers
Janis Martin - Blanco Sessions
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson - Wreck & Ruin
Old Crow Medicine Show - Carry Me Back
Chuck Prophet - Temple Beautiful
Bonnie Raitt - Slipstream
The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band - Between the Ditches
Shovels & Rope - O' Be Joyful
Sara Watkins - Sun Midnight Sun

Listen to the best tracks from our favorite Americana albums of 2012 in this playlist: