As the weather gets crisper and the leaves turn into alluring shades of crimson, copper and gold on Grounds, a feeling of melancholy and dread sets in. There are treacherous waters ahead — finals, cramming and Thanksgiving. So, while the fall season is traditionally associated with cheerful mainstays like pumpkins, cider, turkey and football, it also signifies a season of change.
Whether it be a sense of longing, love lost, crippling nostalgia or simply confusing feelings of instability, music can soothe the wound. These five autumnal tracks with notes of folk, country and melancholy will help listeners traverse the retrospective and confusing emotions of the fall season.
“Stick Season” by Noah Kahan
“Stick Season” is the title track of up-and-coming indie folk artist Noah Kahan’s third studio album. In many ways “Stick Season” is the epitome of a fall album. Kahan explores the aching and retrospective emotions of moving on and changing through the seasons, and the title track captures this idea at its best.
The quick folk guitar, raspy vocals, and the associated visual artwork like the album cover that features Kahan with his dog in a wooded and dreary forest landscape, set the scene for a moody and outdoor feel, while the lyrics drive home how the change of seasons and passage of time can affect one’s feelings. Kahan sings, “And I love Vermont, but it’s the season of the sticks / And I saw your mom, she forgot that I existed.”
Kahan looks back on his past with self-awareness, realizing his own fault and seeing the situation with the clarity of Fall. “Stick Season” is the perfect autumnal track for anyone dealing with the confusing emotions of change.
“right where you left me” by Taylor Swift
“Right where you left me” hails from the “evermore” album, another example of a perfectly autumnal work. While the song was added as a bonus track, it has proved to be a beloved fan favorite as the third most streamed song on the album. The song is adored for its heart-wrenching lyrics and airy vocals, stirring the emotions for the pain of change, abandonment and the lack of ability to move on.
Swift writes from the perspective of a woman left in a restaurant as her relationship falls apart, then her subsequent feeling of not being able to leave the “restaurant” or the pain of the situation. Swift illustrates these feelings in the lyrics “Right where you left me / You left me no… / You left me no choice but to stay here forever.” The compelling lyrics and melodic beats create a beautifully heart-wrenchingly relatable story.
“Leah” by Seeing Double
Seeing Double is a somewhat underground band, with around 45,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. They released “Leah” in 2022 in a double single release. Despite their small following, the band has an experienced, refined signature sound that is clearly exemplified in “Leah,” a track about the treachery of love.
The flowing harmony created by the two female lead singers in “Leah” is the crux of the beauty of the song. This harmony is accompanied by a laidback 70’s sound that makes the track comparable to the likes of Fleetwood Mac or the Eagles. Seeing Double modernizes the track with heart wrenching lyrics and beautifully haunting vocals.
What elevates the song and solidifies it as an anthem of longing and coping with change is the refined lyrics. Reminiscent of love on a witchy and gloomy autumn night, it is the chorus that epitomizes the song’s message of lovingly desperate longing. “Leah / You're breaking my heart and I'm letting you / Oblivious beauty, I'm betting you don't even know what you're doing to me,” Seeing Double sings.
“The Moon Will Sing” by The Crane Wives
“The Moon Will Sing” is a lovely folk masterpiece that tackles a past relationship with a retrospective grit. Folk band The Crane Wives refer to themselves as “a homegrown indie-folk outfit from Grand Rapids, Michigan that defies musical stereotypes.”
The track utilizes a three-part harmony that ebbs and flows against the folksy instrumental backing to create a truly eclectic sound. Following folk format, the Crane Wives use the fantastical guise of the lyrics to lay out the heartfelt grievances of a changed relationship. The chorus reads “The moon will sing a song for me / I loved you like the sun.” The track further reflects with the post-chorus’s ringing vocals, “I shine only with the light you give me.”
“It’s Called: Freefall” by Rainbow Kitten Surprise
Indie mainstay Rainbow Kitten Surprise finishes off this list with the hauntingly introspective track “It’s Called: Freefall.” The track explores self-identity and coping with the past with a devil-on-the-shoulder type of analogy.
In the track, the “Devil” serves as the part of the mind that will not quiet. “Called to the Devil and the Devil said, ‘Hey / Why you been callin' this late?/ It's like 2 AM and the bars all close at 10 in Hell / That's a rule I made.” The song begins with laid-back production behind the lyrics until the singer announces “freefall” or “let it all go.”
“It's called "freefall” /…/ You could let it all go.” A powerful instrumental follows this line, freeing the listener from the seriousness of the previous introspection and letting free all the held-back emotion. For those traversing the troubling feelings of the fall season, “Freefall” gives permission to “let it all go.”