For many of us, the autumn season has now come upon us. With it comes the falling of leaves, the coming of little ghouls and goblins searching for a treat, and home-cooked meals at the setting of a grand family get-together all leading into winter snow and Santa Claus. Often times, right around late October, “rainy season” begins. For me in my hometown of Fairfield, California, we have just had our very first big rain of the season, or in months, for that matter! Below are six songs released sometime between the start of the millennium and today that are absolutely perfect to listen to on a relaxed rainy day.
“It Will Rain” by Bruno Mars
This one may just be a bit too obvious, but bear with me here. What Bruno Mars had devised when recording “It Will Rain” was a track perfect for many things, whether it was dissected to its very bits as a bittersweet modern classic about how hard it is to let go of the one you love to kick off the new decade, as one of two leading tracks for the latest Twilight at the time, or as a song, when looked at from a melody-driven standpoint is perfect for a rainy day. The ambiance, from its opening synth leading into Mars’s potent delivery, to the oh-so-ironic title (for a rainy day playlist, at least), everything is there to make it a very nice fit.
“When It Rains” by Paramore
Released as the fifth track off of the band Paramore’s market-making hit album RIOT! in 2007, the song was bound to be a hit in and of itself, though it was overshadowed by already monstrously popular songs like the lead singles, “Crushcrushcrush” and “Misery Business”, or the hopeful electrically-driven pop-punk ballad, “Hallelujah”. “When It Rains”, however, remains a fan favorite from off of the album, and for good reason, considering its subdued delivery not quite seen anywhere else on the album, or anywhere else with Paramore until the release of their third studio album with songs like “The Only Exception” mixed with a catchy chorus and meaningful lyric. The way lead singer Hayley Williams delivers a tender vocal to pull just on the right heartstrings mixed with a perfect instrumentation suited to both her voice and the situation depicted through the lyrics are absolutely perfect for a rainy day playlist.
“Skinny Love” by Bon Iver
“Skinny Love” was a breakout hit for humble American indie folk band Bon Iver, a project headed by unconventional singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. Set with nothing but a traditional folk acoustic sound to back him up, Vernon brings a very specific type of heartfelt, imperfectly perfect vocal to the song that sets it right-on track to be played as the backing to a heavy rain. Also noteworthy are a taken on the song composed by 16 year-old piano-driven vocalist, Birdy, and YouTube artist Sam Ock’s passionate take on the track.
Read my review of Sam Ock’s Rest Easy – EP here.
“Dirty Rain” by Ryan Adams
Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams has always arguably been known for his irrevocably indie take on indie. Everything about him, from his clever delivery to his quirky vocal and grit, to the way that he strums a relaxed, skillful guitar with no mainstream backing filler, and to the way that he carries himself, North Carolina native Ryan Adams is the spitting image of modern indie music. “Dirty Rain”, the mellow leading track from off of his 2011 effort, Ashes & Fire, only further accentuates that, opening with nothing more than a meager guitar strum and a few small piano flourishes leading into an earnest percussion and a low-key and sincere vocal from Adams about looking back on he and a loved one’s last time in the rain together. For many of the same reasons that make “Skinny Love” a proper song for the rain, “Dirty Rain” is all-the-same perfect for such an occasion.
“I’ll Follow You” by Jon McLaughlin
Excellent pianist and singer-songwriter Jon McLaughlin had gained some attention in the industry after his release of such heartfelt songs with stellar vocals as “Beautiful Disaster” and “Human” from off of his label debut album, Indiana, released in 2007. With what many note as a controversial change of sound with the release of his second album, OK Now in 2008, McLaughlin was able to surprise fans of his first album in delight with the independent release of Forever If Ever in 2011, later re-released with a few extra tunes as Promising Promises under a new label in 2012.
From off of the album, many of the songs were much like advanced forms of the ambiance found throughout much of Indiana, providing a truly heartfelt, unique vocal behind not much else but his amazing piano playing. “I’ll Follow You” is led mainly by his piano work as well as a beautiful, slightly throaty vocal exuding oodles of substance, but also with a slow, but catchy string section that carries the song to new heights. By the delivery of the lyric, “you’re beautiful, but I’m just a man”, any every-man could be reduced to tears, given that they relate to the song’s oft-relatable message of the bond between two people struck by true love. The calm, low-key, yet incredibly stirring production of this song, even in the studio, makes it an easy shoo-in for any rainy day playlist by all means.
“Even Born Again” by Sarah Jaffe
Last but most certainly not least is independent artist Sarah Jaffe’s “Even Born Again”. This song is much more of a slow-burner than any of the tracks listed above, offering a unique and beautiful retrospective on one’s life and morals as the song builds up from verse-to-verse, with strings soon eventually joining a simple, yet effective guitar progression, followed by a very low-key drum and piano accompaniment, followed by harps, and so forth. Jaffe herself offers a few well thought-out vocal tricks here employing a very, very strong head voice and throaty, meaty lower register that come together quite well in the bigger picture. The song itself is a modern masterpiece, and Jaffe herself is someone who should be much more recognized for her efforts than she actually is. Without a single doubt in my mind, this song is not only perfect for a rainy day playlist, but for any true music enthusiast’s collection of songs.