Face it folks – the days of sunbathing and barbecues are over until next year, and the fall is finally upon us. Since there’s no denying it, we might as well all set ourselves up with some appropriately autumnal music to make our way through the season in style. After all, continuing to ignore the calendar and playing your Beach House album on endless repeat just becomes sad after a certain point. And if you’re after the right musical mood to help you navigate the days of descending auburn leaves and the nights of renewing your relationship with your fuzzy slippers and down comforter, one of the most likely places to look is underneath the wide umbrella broadly tagged “folk,” for its combination of lyrical introspection and moody melodies. Here’s a handful of new releases that cut a wide swath across the stylistic spectrum but still offer enough of a folkie flavor to help you make it from here to the holiday season with your soul unscathed.
1. Simon Joyner, Ghosts
Omaha troubadour Simon Joyner is celebrating the 20th year of his recording career with an ambitious double album that not only reiterates his status as the indie Leonard Cohen but tweaks the alt-folk recipe by tossing some tart, twisted post-punk influences into the mix, sort of like wrapping a delicately handcrafted gift in razor wire — you might be a little bloody when all is said and done, but what you’ve gained will be worth it. Out now on Sing, Eunuchs!/Ba Da Bing Records.
2. Mark Eitzel, Don’t Be a Stranger
The erstwhile American Music Club frontman has never exactly been known for penning perky ditties. Over the last couple of years he’s dealt with everything from a heart attack (he’s okay now) to the unexpected death of AMC drummer Tim Mooney, so he’s got no shortage of reasons to indulge in a little musical melancholy, but his real gift, as always, lies in the way he undercuts the poetic intensity of his lyrics with an abundance of well placed black humor. Due out October 2 on Merge Records.
Stream “I Love You But You’re Dead”:
3. Bill Wilson, Ever Changing Minstrel
This reissued rarity has a backstory to die for: in 1973, unknown singer/songwriter Bill Wilson arrived unannounced at the home of Bob Dylan/Leonard Cohen producer Bob Johnston, demanding to be heard. Johnston was so impressed he assembled a band of top-flight session men immediately and cut Ever Changing Minstrel that evening. Unfortunately, Wilson remained unknown, but as the first-ever CD version of his only album shows, his Dylan-meets-Townes Van Zandt tunes stay with you long after the novelty of their origin story is forgotten. Out now on Tompkins Square Records.
Stream “Rainy Day Resolution”:
4. Iris DeMent, Sing the Delta
Iris DeMent emerged as a heavy hitter in the neo-trad folk/country realm in the early ‘90s, but the wife of equally beloved balladeer Greg Brown hasn’t released an album of her own new tunes in 16 years. Despite its title, this isn’t a detour into delta blues, but rather an organic, incandescent blend of folk, old-school soul, and gospel flavors, with DeMent’s sui generis pipes floating gently atop it all. Due out October 2 on DeMent’s Flariella Records.
Stream “Go On Ahead and Go Home”:
5. Searching for Sugar Man Soundtrack
The two cult-classic albums Rodriguez released in the early ‘70s have been known only to dedicated record geeks for years, but with the exceptional new documentary Searching for Sugar Man telling the Detroit underground phenomenon’s bizarre story to a wider world, his bittersweet, streetwise songs are finding a wider audience. And the soundtrack album, which cherry-picks crucial cuts from both Rodriguez records, is the perfect place for newbies to start. Out now on Sony Legacy Recordings.
Stream “Sugar Man”: