Fall is perhaps the season with the most distinct, unified vibe. Summer has vibes to be sure, but a multitude of vibes too numerous to encapsulate. Winter in Winnipeg is too long to have a single vibe, especially once the holiday season passes and we are left in a dark limbo. And in my view, spring gets its vibe mostly from its proximity to summer — it’s all in the anticipation.
Fall is just short enough that it can stay unified, but long enough to feel distinct. There are unique worldly characteristics — the falling coloured leaves, brisk temperatures, death and rebirth swirling in one. We start to reflect on the fast-moving summer now firmly behind us, begin a school year anew and start our gradual slowdown to the forced hibernation of winter.
It’s transitional, but static.
As such, fall vibes are all about comfiness and warmth, with a slight hint of haunting spookiness or bittersweet nostalgia. Most of this playlist is made up of folk-adjacent music, a palette that I associate pretty heavily with fall. Acoustic guitars just sound like autumn, the crisp strumming with the warm timbral body is like stepping on the crunchy top layer of leaves on a forest trail.
The purest folk songs on here come courtesy of a few Canadian legends — Buffy Sainte-Marie’s gorgeous “The Dream Tree” from her revelatory, hypnotizing psychedelic-folk detour, Illuminations, Gordon Lightfoot’s light and lovely “Approaching Lavender” and Willie Dunn’s starry-eyed “The Dreamer.”
In other places the definition is stretched a bit more. Fog Lake and Alex G’s respective Elliott Smith-indebted indie pop styles still carry a lot of the warmth and sincerity of good folk music. Artists like Dear Nora and meadows take that warmth and apply it to their own fragile, lo-fi recordings.
Beyond the acoustic stuff, there are some other genres that I think have distinct fall vibes, including jangle-pop, soul, dream-pop and alt-country — all very autumnal.
So, take a walk around a forest, jump in a big pile of leaves, go on a wagon ride, explore a corn maze, go bird watching, visit an apple orchard or a pumpkin patch and listen to this playlist while you’re out there. It’s good music!
Hold Me in Your Mind – Living Hour, Someday Is Today
On to September – Dear Nora, The New Year
Sheets of Grey – Ducks Ltd.
Heart Like a Wheel – Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Kate & Anna McGarrigle
Partner – Ada Lea, one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden
Cards – Alex G, Boring Ecstasy
Cooking – Duster, Contemporary Movement
New Partner – Palace Music, Viva Last Blues
Any Other Way – Jackie Shane
honeytea – meadows
Sunlight Bathed the Golden Glow – Felt, The Strange Idols Pattern and Other Short Stories
The Dream Tree – Buffy Sainte-Marie, Illuminations
Dakota – Fog Lake, Tragedy Reel
Here’s Where The Story Ends – The Sundays, Reading, Writing & Arithmetic
Houses – Elyse Weinberg, Elyse
Beneath the Leaves – Julie Doiron, So Many Days
The Dreamer – Willie Dunn, The Pacific
Approaching Lavender – Gordon Lightfoot, If You Could Read My Mind
Cherry Coke – OMBIIGIZI, Sewn Back Together
Dust – You’ll Never Get to Heaven, Wave Your Moonlight Hat For The Snowfall Train
September Song – Amos the Kid, No More New Ideas
Ugly Little Victory – Friendship, Love the Stranger
Listen to ’Toban Tracks – Fall Vibes on Spotify here