With the nights drawing in and summer a distant memory, it’s time to break out the chunky knit, sit with a glass of single malt by the fire and put some records on.
Here we’ve selected 10 fantastic albums that all have an autumnal flavour. Whether that’s in the lyrics of the songs or the crispness in the music, these are all albums that work best when listened to from October onwards, in the warmth, while outside the leaves are turning yellow and the air has a bite.
Heck, even when it’s just peeing it down and bloody miserable outside, throw these on and all will be better with the world.
If you have an autumnal fave that's not on the list, then let us know below.
The best autumnal albums, revealed
1. Nick Drake - Pink MoonBuy now from Amazon
It may clock in under 30 minutes but a half-hour of Pink Moon will stay with you for a lifetime. Nick Drake was just 26 when he recorded his third and final album. It’s his unique sound stripped bare, with each pluck of the guitar string summoning melancholy. The songs - 11, with only two hitting the 3 minute mark - were recorded over two nights, sung and played by Drake after 11pm. It’s a personal, uncompromising album that has the chill of autumnal air flowing right through it.
2. For Emma, Forever Ago - Bon IverBuy now from Amazon
Ill, fed up and frustrated with his songwriting, Justin Vernon headed to a remote cabin owned by his family to get away from things. There, during convalescence, he created the melancholic masterpiece that is For Emma, Forever Ago. There’s a cold darkness to some of the album, but cracks of autumnal light do seep through, thanks to Vernon’s beautiful falsetto and the choral arrangements soaring throughout.
3. Astral Weeks - Van MorrisonBuy now from Amazon
If you want to remember a time when Van Morrison was known more as a troubadour rather than just, well, dour, put on Astral Weeks and let the poetic, stream of consciousness lyrics wash over you. They are complemented by the jazz, blues and folk sounds of a record that was recorded over two autumnal days and this perforates each and every track.
4. The Velvet Underground & Nico - The Velvet UndergroundBuy now from Amazon
There is no better album opener than Sunday Morning, a beautiful paean to an all-nighter that ends, as it always does, drenched in paranoia. Its sunny childlike dream-pop melody coupled with Lou Reed’s stark singing style is autumn all over, while the rest of the record shifts effortlessly through musical genres like that season does its weather. There’s garage rock, R&B, psychedelia… it’s an album uncertain what it wants to be musically. It shouldn’t work but, blimey, it really does.
5. Harvest - Neil YoungBuy now from Amazon
While the album name Harvest conjures up images of a hazy summer, the light is certainly fading in these beautiful songs. Old Man is about having fears and anxieties, regardless of your age and stature. The Needle And The Damage Done is about the devastation heroin brought to people close to Young, while the titular Harvest is about love and the grief it can bring. This cold subject matter is warmed by Young’s honeyed voice and folk-tinged arrangements.
6. Blue - Joni MitchellBuy now from Amazon
Like a bright autumn day, there’s a sense of warmth within the songs of Joni Mitchell’s Blue, but that comes with cold clarity. It’s a stunning album, one of the best ever made, packed with both optimism and heartbreak that ends, as autumn always does, with a cold blast of winter chill, in the form of River.
7. The Boatman’s Call - Nick Cave & The Bad SeedsBuy now from Amazon
For their 10th album, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds shifted gears down, straying away from the full band sound they were known for, opting instead for piano-lead ballads. Opener Into My Arms sets the scene, a beautiful lament about loss, in this case supposedly the end of a long-term relationship. It’s a song packed with warmth, followed by a crisp chill.
8. Fleet Foxes - Fleet FoxesBuy now from Amazon
There’s a real warmth to Fleet Foxes debut - and their subsequent records - thanks to the choral singing throughout, but this is tinged with a spiky coolness, with one eye on colder, darker times. Especially when they sing lyrics such as: “With scarves of red tied 'round their throats, to keep their little heads, from fallin' in the snow.” Chilling stuff.
9. Good Kid, M.A.A.D City - Kendrick LamarBuy now from Amazon
Released at the back end of October over a decade ago, Kendrick Lamar’s debut may hint at the G-Funk era of his hometown of Compton but the beats and rap flow are far from sunny. Instead there’s a coldness to proceedings as he builds a picture of a person who wants to get out of the drug-infested streets they are growing up in, while acknowledging this is the world that made them.
10. Taylor Swift - FolkloreBuy now from Amazon
For her eighth studio album, Taylor Swift enlisted the help of The National’s Aaron Dessner to shape a collection of songs she had written during lockdown. Throughout the album there is (for obvious reasons) a feeling of trying to escape, to become something different. Because of this, the lyrics are introspective, while the music is sparse but beautiful. Folklore may have been released during a hot, sticky summer but the music demands to be listened to when there are logs on the fire.
- Next up, check out the coolest albums of all time