Mixtape: Rainy day folk music to soothe the soul


It’s the dead of April, and that translates to “rain season” for us here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, so I decided to throw together some songs to accompany this environment. I listen to this music and it reminds me of cold windows and filled storm drains, so whether you’re outdoors embracing nature or indoors watching its beauty from behind glass, you can bet these folk songs will paint a delicate mood most anyone can abide by.

William Fitzsimmons – Passion Play

Don’t let the playful introductions fool you, the chord progressions mirror a calming feel as the guitars begin to go to work. William’s intricate rhythm he plays throughout drives the entire song, as does the offbeat percussion at hand. It’s soothing and treating, very fitting for a cold, wet day.

George Ezra – Barcelona

Ezra’s impressive voice isn’t the main attraction on this song, although it’s a huge plus. No, it’s the collected, produced sound that doesn’t seem overly manufactured. The sculptural riffs Ezra combines complement the track further, giving it an excellent mood-setter.

Nick Drake – Which Will

Nick Drake’s entire third album “Pink Moon” is breathtaking, but this song channels the idea of boots crashing into damp grass and whisking between terrains. Whether you’re painting in your living room watching the rain from afar, or hiking in Forest Park welcoming the weather, either activity is suited best to the harmonies of Nick Drake.

I’m Ready – Tracy Chapman

It doesn’t matter how short or small the lyric is, Tracy can carry it out like no one else. Her down-to-earth environment she creates with this song is warm and endearing. She’s always fun to listen to and can attend to all sorts of emotions. I love the hook on this track, and it doesn’t seem so metaphorical once you’re standing under a dark gray cloud.

James Vincent McMorrow – Cavalier

Not entirely folk, the soft tones of this song with seemingly treacherous intensity and its percussion-lavished crescendo prove that this track can not only hang out with the rest of the Mixtape, it can stand out. McMorrow’s sharp, untrained falsetto voice gives the second half of the song a kick that seriously adds an icing on the cake.

Corinne Bailey Rae – Till It Happens To You

While “Put Your Records On” may be suitable for summer, I think the song after it on her 2006 self-titled debut fares better for the gloomy weather spring brings. Honest and brutally mawkish, Corinne maintains her charisma that is disguised crestfallenly.

Gregory Alan Isakov – She Always Takes It Black

Isakov has impressed me with most of his music since I started listening to him a couple weeks ago. His morose lyrics and reflective riffs are what develop the atmosphere necessary for someone holding onto baggage to let it all out.

Sufjan Stevens – The Only Thing

Sufjan’s work has ranged from a plethora of genres, but he’s always nailed deep emotion when needed. His latest album, “Carrie & Lowell,” fares no exception, especially with this song. Rife with beauty and fortitude, pieces of Sufjan’s work can either make you jump with excitement or hold a blanket closely as you curl up in your bed. This one does endorse the latter, though surely it can also add a little more contemplation to your afternoon walk.

Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy

The opening track on his 2014 album plays just right for a long drive with the windshield wipers on. The slow ascent with a short, repeating riff is the essence that Damien’s voice inhabits the best in. It’s so fun to hear this track unravel into what it becomes, because it holds up the whole way through effortlessly.

Josh Garrels – Decision

Just as the sun peeks over the clouds, and the rays gleam onto the puddles of the sidewalk, there is a small triumph people feel. What’s a better way to share that than with a little touch of strength? Portland resident Josh Garrels is an underrated folk singer who I believe deserves some further recognition. His faith is embedded in his lyrics, which may turn some people away, but this drum-heavy ballad is inspiring and robust, reaching for the listener.

Jack Johnson – Do You Remember

We could all pick out his voice in a million people singing any given sentence. The casual, loving sentiment that is a package deal with Jack Johnson is embodied in this song. Short, sweet and unapologetically formulaic, Johnson will always win us over in one way or another. Here he crafts a vivid image of a romantic concept I think we’ve all thought about at one point or another.