Julien Baker: "if the soul could sing, this is what it would sound like"FLICKR/ MATTHEW BALDWIN

That’s the thing about things. They fall apart, always have, always will, it’s in their nature. — Ali Smith, Autumn

From the reality of mortality to the constancy of change, autumn is a physical representation of things falling apart. Given the melancholy of shorter nights and almost inevitable feeling of hopelessness, Week 5 blues can be extra ripe (ironically) in this season. At times we have to wallow, but autumn is also perfect for celebrating the finite preciousness of life. In this article, I have compiled a playlist of my own repeat songs for this season, with a short description of the beauty and catharsis they provide.

“Claws In Your Back” - Julien Baker

Sometimes human beings just need to sob. My approach to crying is to let it happen, and no method is more effective than playing a Julien Baker record. “Claws In Your Back” speaks to deep feelings of hurt, of unlovable insecurity, vulnerability and sadness. Baker sounds close to tears, across a lonely piano, before tearing through a sustained belt which is phenomenally expressed. If the soul could sing, this is what it would sound like. The pain that this song makes me feel is uncomfortable, but it is often a necessary approach before I build myself out of my sadness. “Hurt Less” is the epitome of a week 5 breakdown, which I then combat with emotional yet comforting music.

“It simultaneously makes me miss my hometown (rare) and feel at home”

“Hometown Glory” - Adele

Many would argue one name will dominate this autumn: Adele. With a smash return that broke streaming records, Adele is an artist who is unstoppable. Naturally, “Easy On Me” is an obvious choice for this piece, but as her streaming numbers have shown, there has been a gluttonous consumption of her previous catalogue too. For me, her highlight is the gorgeously opaque “Hometown Glory”. Presenting nostalgia for the comfortably underwhelming, this song is perfect for wandering the streets of Cambridge. It simultaneously makes me miss my hometown (rare) and feel at home. Sad, but not crying, this is a song for comfort in difficult times. Week 5 is passing, and whilst I miss home I feel a youthful optimism about the rest of Michaelmas.

"(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano" is "beautifully simple, yet powerfully nostalgic"YOUTUBE/SAMPHA

“(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano” - Sampha

Soulful, yearning and brilliant - that’s the way I would describe Sampha’s Process (2017). This single is beautifully simple, yet powerfully nostalgic like Adele. I wouldn’t call it sad, so much as gratefully and peacefully melancholic. The piano offers a warm comfort in the cold, strengthening nights of autumn - it’s a promise of soulful resuscitation around dying leaves and bonfires. Sampha is also thoroughly correct in his imagination of home: no one knows me like the piano (in my parent’s home).

“Say What You Will” - James Blake

I have always had an appreciation for James Blake’s music. Ten years of rich, randomly calculated beats and haunting vocals have coined him critical praise and the phrase “your artist’s favourite artist”. His recent project, Friends That Break Your Heart, turned this appreciation into a deep admiration. With its elaborately layered sultry ballads, this album is perfect for journaling in the evening. This time for reflection and peace feels deeply meditative, making James Blake’s recent album perfect for combatting a tinge of sadness in a dark and cold evening. Heartbreak is a marker of sadness, but the slow burn of lost friends is something James Blake is such a comforting accomplice in.


Mountain View

A tinge of sadness: Friends That Break Your Heart review

“22 (OVER S∞∞N)” - Bon Iver

In a month about endings, Bon Iver’s introduction track to 22, A Million is perfectly autumnal. As the nights lengthen, and sadness threatens, I have found a forest walk with Bon Iver is a reset to my mood. The song perfectly encapsulates gratitude, which is proven to increase feelings of wellbeing. The vocal chop throughout, stuttering, beginning again, is an electronic recreation of the circle of life. Beautifully synthetic, perfectly human, Bon Iver reminds us to hold and embrace the grip of mortality. The promise of a small beam of autumnal sunlight looking through the shaving branches both summarises, and is the perfect companion to this song.

“Holy Ground” - Taylor Swift

Red (Taylor’s Version) is fast approaching and I, like many, am scared. As such, to talk of a 5 minute “All Too Well” when we are about to get a 10 minute version feels premature. Instead of focusing on the heart-breaking sadness of Red, I turn to the lively and appropriately named “Holy Ground”. After some acoustic guitar strumming, an outrageously infectious bass drum leaves me foot tapping and dancing. The song at points feels so melancholy, and yet the 157bpm leaves the listener with no choice but to move. This dichotomy is what autumn should be about, revelling in heartbreak and sadness with an intensity and passion for life. Summer was like Taylor’s relationship, a holy memory of intense beauty. At times, the present is lonely. Instead of trying to be consumed by sadness, autumn for me is about dancing, running and singing over a bed of decaying leaves. Coffee alone, tapping my foot, and euphoric mortal rebirth have described my autumn thus far. “Holy Ground″ is the ultimate Sad Girl Autumn song, and a reminder that the blues will pass.