Times are strange, and a lot has changed, but one sure thing is that music is more important than ever. This month, we asked our Mass Mix contributors which songs they're turning to for comfort, joy, and a little peace. Here's what they had to say:
Melody Gardot, “Morning Sun”
When times get tough, and I am seeking comfort, I put on anything by Melody Gardot, but especially "Morning Sun." It's soft and a little bit sultry, like an adult lullaby, and serves as a gentle reminder that there will, indeed, be another day after tomorrow. I listened to it a lot when I was home on maternity leave with my daughter. Those nights were so long, but then the sun would come up, and we would have the most peaceful (albeit, drowsy) mornings together. "Morning Sun" takes me back to those simpler days, and fills me with gratitude for the little things — and the little person — in my life. -Ellen London, Senior Editor, WGBH
Charles Bradley, "The World (Is Going Up In Flames)"
I've been listening to a lot of Charles Bradley over the last two months. I mean, a LOT. "The Screaming Eagle of Soul" speaks to me on a molecular level, now more than ever before. These are hard times for so many people, and Charles Bradley is a man who knew hard times, may he rest in peace. They seep into his lyrics and pour out in his vocals like a soulful catharsis. It's what I need right now as I try to make sense of what's happening in this world that indeed seems to be going up in flames. Maybe it's what you need, too. -Adam 12, Weekdays 11a-4p, ROCK 92.9
Janelle Monáe, “Americans”
In hard times, I am drawn to upbeat music. I love a good protest song, especially when it sounds as fun as this one. “I’m not crazy, I’m American,” Janelle Monáe sings as she pushes back against the idea that patriotism means loving a country blindly and accepting the status quo. In this song, she shows that dissent is what makes us American, and critique is an act of patriotism. And she preaches the power of unity when confronting difficult times — no one is in this fight alone. So if you’re feeling down about the state of the world or feeling alone, hopefully, this song can make you get up, dance, and smile about the future. Because as long as Janelle Monae is making music, we have a lot to look forward to.-Meghan Smith, Digital Producer, WGBH
Hawthorn, "In the Morning"
Hawthorn's "In the Morning" is a sleepy, soothing track that makes you think back to lazy summer nights of years gone by. Rooted in Celtic and Appalachian influences, Hawthorn shows their strength with their careful guitar-plucking and raw vocals that gracefully blend together. With a gentle tone and lyrics that analyze the stages of life, the song strives to look at the human experience. Together, musicians Heather Scott and Taylor Holland create a dreamy narrative that brings a wistful comfort that swims deep in your veins. -Alexis den Boggende, Staff Writer, Sound of Boston
The Full Salon, “The Intendant”
The Full Salon is from the mind of composer and bassist Henry Fraser. On this record, he is accompanied by Mel Stancato on vocals, Evan Allen on synthesizers, Andrew Smiley on guitar, Peter Moffet on drums, and Connor Baker on electronic drums, all mixed by Ryan Power, yes the Ryan Power. “The Intendant” is the new single from The Full Salon’s debut, self-titled record due out May 1 on Boston’s Erased! Tapes label. The sound is remarkably full, unsure yet warm, with very little left to be desired. (The only thing I desire at the moment is the chance to listen to the rest of the record. We’ll all have to wait until then.) So keep your eyes peeled for the album, and remember to support your (local) musicians and BUY their products, particularly during COVID-19. -Chris Hues, Associate Editor, bostonhassle.com
Tim Bowman Jr., "I'm Good"
It goes without saying that right now hearing a positive message is a gift. Combine that with a good uptempo beat and it becomes priceless. "I'm Good" by Contemporary Gospel artist Tim Bowman Jr. is one of the many uplifting songs I've had on repeat. At the beginning of social distancing and lockdown, I consumed the news nonstop. I often felt helpless with a glass half-empty outlook on everything. Listening to this song reminds me to have confidence, count my blessings, and stay positive. Some people may shy away from gospel believing stereotypes of it being "out of touch" or "too preachy." I love this song and Tim Bowman Jr. as an artist because he is the exact opposite. This song gives a positive message and great music you can bob your head to without being too religious in the process. -Danielle Anderson, Social Media Manager, BAMS Fest, Inc @bamsfest
Dom The Composer, “For A Rainy Day”
From its warm piano tone to its jazz-inspired percussion, Dom the Composer’s “For a Rainy Day” feels like a warm cup of tea on a stormy day. A student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Dom describes himself as “a young musician telling stories about mental health love and all of the above.” While this song does indeed tackle these large and heavy subjects, Dom’s rich vocals exude a feeling of safety as he sings, “it don’t matter though; our love is stronger.” The music reflects this sentiment, with unexpected chord changes that resolve into a familiar and beautiful chorus that begins to feel like home as the listener is taken along on this journey. Reminiscent of Norah Jones’s “Don’t Know Why,” this song approaches hardship through with a sense of calm that champions the strength of the human spirit. In these dark and uncertain times, “For a Rainy Day” calls it’s listeners to look for the light inside themselves and those they love, asserting that everything will indeed be okay, “we’ll sing in the rain.” -Birdie Bergeron, writer for the Lowell Spin
Nick Cave, “Fireflies”
I’ve been a die-hard Nick Cave fan since I was a bitty little goth in Hot Topic boots. I’ve aged with his discography, in a strange way, moving through life with his evolving sound playing score much of the time. Sometimes his songs fit where I am in life, sometimes they don’t — and sometimes they become something I return to, again and again. “Fireflies” might be off his last album, Ghosteen, but it’s already one of those songs that I play. over and over and that I feel sink into my skin and burn images into my head. More spoken word than song, “Fireflies” moves with strange imagery, ethereal and corporeal, and bleeds surreal, existential energy all over the place. The song is, for me, a panacea for our current life, bestowing an air of acceptance and peace in a way very few have. -Andrea Wolanin, Senior Producer, WGBH
Honey Cutt, "Hung Up On Me"
Local dream-pop act Honey Cutt's "Hung Up On Me" feels like a daydream amidst the humid haze of summer. The band sings melancholily about their realization: "I guess you're not so hung up on me" as the guitar splashes saltwater onto your face. There's a comforting familiarity that hangs overhead; the track recalls the woozy sounds of SALES, or the vocal softness of Greta Morgan (The Hush Sound, Springtime Carnivore, Gold Motel), and the upbeat bounce of the drums can bring to mind the percussive drive of surf rockers The Drums. And, though lyrically dissimilar in content, the call-and-response of the vocals springs to mind the "Summer Nights" scene from Grease — a stretch of a comparison that we better chalk up to nostalgia for better days and Honey Cutt's mastery of crafting warmth. -Knar Bedian, Editor in Chief, Sound of Boston
David Byrne, “Every Day is a Miracle”
In times as uncertain as these, the blazing optimism of David Byrne’s American Utopia feels more revitalizing than ever. The bright and downright cooky world he creates on songs like “Every Day is a Miracle” feels like an escape, but also a light at the end of the tunnel. As Bryne sings about a chicken who “dreams of a heaven filled with roosters and plenty of corn” or a cockroach who just might “eat Mona Lisa,” he takes us away to a place beyond our wildest imagination. For the chorus we snap back to reality: “Every day is a miracle,” he sings, “Love one another.” We’re far from the absurd land of happy, anthropomorphic animals that Byrne depicts, but “Every Day is a Miracle” helps us to find little pieces of it amidst the chaos of everyday life. -Owen Murray, Music Coordinator, 88.9 WERSFM