10 Essential Songs For Your Winter Playlist

by Brody Coronelli

I’m not sure how everyone else does it, but there’s something to be said about adjusting the mood of your playlist based on the season. Summer is home to the loud, windows down anthems that make your throat sore from singing along, but right when the grey skies come out, something softer starts to hit the spot. Here are some essential songs for your slow, bummed out winter playlist that you listen to while you look outside at the snowfall pretending you’re in a movie. (No, is that just me?)

 

 

Sun Kil Moon - “Lost Verses” (April, 2008)

 

Mark Kozelek, the patron saint of melancholy, has a way of writing so that his words and melodies delicately crawl under your skin, getting to your core in a warm, personal manner. “Lost Verses” is one of his most haunting songs, perfect for inducing some sharp introspection when the snowfall hits.

 

 

The Horrible Crowes - “I Believe Jesus Brought Us Together” (Elsie, 2011)

 

A slow, percussive, and instrumentally sparse ballad, this track from Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem) and Ian Perkins’ project The Horrible Crowes is a restrained, confessional love song that manages to create an entire world despite being stripped down to the bones.

 

 

Korey Dane - “Fade Into You” (Single, 2015)

 

Mazzy Star’s eerie, gorgeous “Fade Into You” is a tough song to cover because it’s simply too good. I’ve always considered it the official theme song to seasonal affective disorder. Korey Dane, however, taps into the dark recesses of its words, capturing the original essence while also lending his subdued, literate charm.

 

 

Noah Gundersen - “Poor Man’s Son” (Ledges, 2014)

 

“Poor Man’s Son” kicks off Ledges, one of the best indie-folk albums of the decade. Despite being professionally recorded, this song has the immediacy of something played in your living room, leaving everything up to Gundersen, a guitar, and some chilling vocal harmonies. “Stone cold broke in the middle of the winter, oh like a poor man’s son…”

 

 

 

Ryan Adams - “Avalanche” (Love Is Hell, 2004)

 

Ryan Adams has too many good songs to fit into a setlist, let alone a playlist. “Avalanche” sticks out though, not only as one of the best cuts from Love Is Hell, but in in entire discography. Midtempo and melancholic, this piano-driven track takes the old formula of missing an old lover and make it feel new, mainly due to poignant and vivid imagery.

 

 

Laura Stevenson - “Every Tense” (Wheel, 2013)

 

Laura Stevenson plays her tender, sprawling brand of indie-folk with the simplicity of punk-rock and the soaring, sentimental highs of the most expressive singer/songwriters. “Every Tense” off her 2013 album Wheel never quite stays in one place as it soars up and down, but it maintains a calm, seasonally-appropriate melancholy.

 

The Barr Brothers - “Beggar In The Morning”  (Self-titled, 2010)

 

The Barr Brothers and their dream-like, subdued songwriting are at the front and center of a new stream of indie-folk bands, and one listen to “Begger In The Morning” will solidify that. Stripped-down and subtly ambient, this song is a perfect soundtrack to a glazed over sky. “I’m a beggar in the morning/I’m a king at night/My belt is loose, but my trigger is tight”.

 

 

Dawes - “Now That It’s Too Late, Maria” (All Your Favorite Bands, 2015)

 

On this song, Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith reaches lyrical highs that match the colorful, emotionalimagery of Bob Dylan, and with the mellow, virtuosic, and tasteful playing characteristic of Dawes behind him, every word of this song hits right where it hurts.

 

 

Dan Layus - “Four Rings” (Dangerous Things, 2016)

 

This sweeping piano ballad from the former Augustana frontman feels instantaneously classic and emotionally worn-in, even though it’s only a few months old. “It took four rings, good intentions/Heartache and confessions/Lost their shine in diamonds day by day…”

 

 

Butch Walker - “Afraid of Ghosts” (Afraid of Ghosts, 2015)

 

I always find myself coming back to Afraid of Ghosts when the weather turns. A slow, meditative song about coming to terms with what’s holding you back and learning how to move forward in spite of it, the title track is dreary in temperament, but incredibly uplifting if you let it get to you. “I’m coming to terms with the ghosts, I’m learning to deal/Gonna take what scares me the most, turn it into something real”.