With autumn on its way, are you getting in the mood for music that feels like crisp red leaves tumbling through the brisk air? Here are some albums currently available on Hoopla that would sound perfect while sipping apple cider beside a toasty fireplace…
Harvest – Neil Young
With his lonesome, delicate, prairie wind voice, and his fondness for rustling folk-rock textures, Neil Young is to autumn what the Beach Boys are to summer. Harvest is arguably his most renowned album, but so many of his others– like his self-titled debut, or my personal favorite After the Gold Rush, or 1992’s Harvest Moon, or his recently-unearthed Homegrown— would fit just as snugly on this list.
I Put a Spell On You – Nina Simone
On one of Nina Simone’s most pop-flavored collections, her voice always crackles like burning logs, and her piano stylings swing from refreshingly warm to invigoratingly cool– like when late September days turn to nights, and back again.
So Tonight That I Might See – Mazzy Star
Before there was Lana Del Rey, there was Mazzy Star’s lead singer, Hope Sandoval. Drenched in twilight reverb, cocooned in hazy guitars, and riding a desolate highway of percussion, Sandoval’s dreamy vocals fill the purgatorial canyon between summer’s dog days and winter’s discontent.
Chutes Too Narrow – The Shins
On this 2003 indie rock classic, The Shins’ singer-songwriter James Mercer uses vivid, literary lyrics and intricate melodies to wrestle with some awfully autumnal strains of angst and melancholy.
Astral Weeks – Van Morrison
This landmark album is so timeless, its transcendental brilliance would shine in any part of the year. But this spiritual, stream-of-consciousness song cycle always transports me to an idyllic, early-autumn realm that shimmers with bittersweet memories and magic-hour sunsets.
Tree of Life – Lila Downs
Lila Downs’ voice blends jazzy finesse with operatic power, as her music stirs up a savory, earthy melting pot of indigenous Mexican folk traditions.
Pieces of the Sky – Emmylou Harris
A hearty feast of country, folk, and rock, with sides of gospel and adult contemporary. Includes gems like “Boulder to Birmingham” and “If I Could Only Win Your Love,” plus exceptional covers of songs by Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, and The Beatles.
Journey in Satchidananda – Alice Coltrane featuring Pharaoh Sanders
Alice Coltrane’s heavenly harp and sublime piano float blissfully around Pharaoh Sanders’ sultry saxophone; together, they forge a spicy, slow-simmering fusion of cosmic jazz, Indian classical, and North African music.
Genuine Negro Jig – Carolina Chocolate Drops
This group’s modern take on the centuries-old African-American string music of the Carolinas evokes delightfully rickety hayrides, jaunty folk dances, and a cornucopia of other harvest time festivities. Their rendition of “Cornbread and Butterbeans” from this record gets played a lot at my house, especially around Thanksgiving.
White Blood Cells – The White Stripes
From the seasonally apt opener “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” to the endearing back-to-school ditty “We’re Going to Be Friends,” to the hauntingly enigmatic closer “This Protector,” The White Stripes’ breakthrough album is a magnificently muddy swirl of punky folk and gothic blues. Sometimes it’s raw and bitter, and sometimes it’s tender and lovely, and sometimes it’s all those things at once– just like fall itself.
Moanin’ in the Moonlight – Howlin’ Wolf
When the rusty autumn moon hangs high in the midnight sky, and your heart is wailing in woe, Howlin’ Wolf will walk with you and feel your pain. Or maybe you might just want to spend part of a chill evening listening to “Smokestack Lightning” on an indefinite loop, like I sometimes do, simply because “Smokestack Lightning” is one of the greatest tracks ever recorded.
– Joe, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian