Photo credit: Andrew Calvetti
Fall brings with it beautiful leaves falling from trees and cooler temperatures. Here in northeast Ohio, the season means a nice chill that pairs nicely with hooded sweatshirts, pumpkins, and candy corn. We encourage our readers to take in this playlist start to finish. Read the little blurb, sure, but give each track a serious listen. If you really LOVE any of these tracks, leave a comment on Facebook or Twitter requesting a full review and we’ll see if we can find the time to cover it. But until then, cozy up and enjoy.
Rasmus Soederberg – “Passing the Dawn”
-This beautiful acoustic recording is the perfect start to a fall soundtrack. The intimacy in the chords and vocal combines for a delightfully light, but meaningful song. There are some cool tones to the melody, brightened up by the softness of the harmonies. Lyrically, there are challenges to purpose in life and a healthy dose of helpful hope.
Jonathan Fox Band – “Jumping Off Cliffs”
-If you took the whimsy of Jimmy Buffett and the sincerity of Kyle Cox, you’d come up with a sound like the Jonathan Fox Band. It’s a wonderful combination of sweetness and interesting, accessible lyrics. The main concept about seeking love with reckless abandon reminds me of the same sort of intrigue John Mayer’s “St. Patrick’s Day” always did. The fall is a great time to start a new relationship, too…
Andrea Silva – “The Fall”
-Seriously, the song is called “The Fall.” How could it not make it on this list? I know, I know… homophones. It’s not actually the “fall” as in the autumnal season. Rather, it is a sad song about a lost relationship. What makes the song so good, though, besides the really genuine lyric writing, is the textured vocal. Silva has the type of voice that is as smooth as it is convincing.
Beau James – “Cowboy Boots”
-You might be thinking a song with a slow western swing called “Cowboy Boots” is probably country more than it is folk. But honestly, this here singer reminds me of Andrew Combs and the new wave of quality country music. It’s an insult to this fella to put this song in with the big commercial country stuff. In any event, this song is a real storytelling country song that could have been a hit in 1966 as much as it should be in 2016. Everything from killer chord changes to incisive vocals, it’s the kind of track we want country to be, but should probably more accurately be called folk music.
Halie and the Moon – “Paint the Stars”
-I am not certain what fall sounds like, but I bet it’s pretty close to this song. It’s equal parts jazz and chill acoustic folk music. As the flavors blend together, you can’t help but feel a sense of sensuality and sophistication. The guitar work is eloquent and the vocal defines the song. The lyrics and sound will have to gazing up in wonder.
Skinny Living – “Better Way of Living”
-The lead vocal can make or break a band; the lead vocal for Skinny Living absolutely sets the band apart in a crowded indie folk scene. The sounds are sometimes poppy and sometimes darkly intriguing, like a complicated folk song. But when the lead vocal opens up, it carries the power of John Legend. The sound comes together with thoughtful lyrics about living a better life. The listener can’t help but feel inspired.
The Arcadian Wild – “Rain Clouds”
-The sound of The Arcadian Wild is one of the purest folk bands I’ve heard in years. The sound extraordinarily well balanced. The chords roll right along and the melodies are rewardingly sweet. This track “Rain Clouds” has both a male and a female lead. As the two different voices deliver the lines in their own ways, the strings pop and bounce in the background for a mature sound. It gives me the impression of an antique store, just enough patina to show growth and maturity, while full of nostalgia and abiding love.
Tanya Gallagher – “Virginia”
-Imagine pulling out a 45 from your grandparents’ collection. You put it on the turntable and there’s just a few seconds of silence, followed by a few subtle pops, then a really organic, truly sweet female vocal. It sounds old yet, brand new. It’s about love and distance. There’s a hook, “Virginia, you’ve stolen my heart,” and the lightest twang to remind yo that it has some southern flavor but is really just a great Americana folksy tune. It’s rich and abiding, except that it’s on Soundcloud and not on a 45.
Michael Spivack – “Under the Subway Tracks”
-Michael Spivack has a perfectly haunting voice. He’s one of those vocalists who could probably sing the phone book and have it sound like a love song. But this song actually is romantic and the texture of Spivack’s voice really makes it work. The crawling acoustic guitar provides a fantastic backdrop to a heartening song. I like the way the song can make me feel nostalgia for a moment that never happened in my own life.
GOODBLOOD – “Knockin’ at My Door”
-There’s something really endearing about the acoustic songwriting of GOODBLOOD. It’s almost prayer-like in its simplicity. But yet, the song moves along with an earnest gentleness, telling a story of the early stages of love. There’s a brightness to it, like the first cracks of a sunrise on a cool fall morning. There’s a definitive optimism in the structure of the song and the performance. The duo vocals really fit nicely with a gentle, sincere song.