A playlist for nature walks, reading the Martlet, or anytime you want to feel like nature is singing to you
What better way to read the Climate Issue than with a hand-crafted playlist in the background? These artists turn the natural world and its many treasures into swelling tunes.
Without further ado, here’s a nature-themed playlist of five songs worth listening to.
“The Last of the Honey Bees” by Sam Burchfield
Sam Burchfield grew up around the Blue Ridge mountains to the sound of Appalachian music. “The Last of the Honey Bees” harkens back to this childhood in the woods: Autumn leaves, hand-made forts, backyard-dug holes. Though not everyone holds these memories, Burchfield evokes a story of wild abandon to the tune of guitars and simple percussion. This song summarizes that sense of adventure in the natural world: “I wanna be there.”
“In a Week” by Hozier ft. Karen Cowley
Andrew Hozier-Byrne and Karen Cowley (aka Krea) are Irish musicians from the coastal town of Bray. Hozier consistently creates music with the natural world as a common throughline, but often as a comparison to relationships. “In a Week” is a tribute to how the world reclaims our mortal bodies, from insects to buzzards. Hozier’s and Cowley’s voices layer beautifully as they remind us of our place in the ever-spinning circle of life.
“Nightjar” by Cosmo Sheldrake
Cosmo Sheldrake is a London-based musician who writes, composes, and produces music steeped in nature. Sheldrake’s work highlights how music isn’t just man-made; the natural world is filled with all sorts of melodies, from water to warbles. Birds are the most prolific musicians, since their means of communication is built upon intricate tunes. Sheldrake’s album Wake Up Calls, which “Nightjar” comes from, is entirely composed with endangered birdsong samples. Sheldrake’s work reminds us that music is everywhere if we stop and listen.
“Sombake” by Digawolf
Digawolf grew up in Behchoko, the capital of the Tłı̨chǫ Nation, an hour from Yellowknife. Ini is the first album in more than a decade to be entirely recorded in the Tłı̨chǫ (Dogrib) language and took two years to produce. Diga explores the history of the Canadian Northwest, and though no lyrics are provided, “Sombake” (also spelled “Sombe K’e”) translates to “Yellowknife.” In an agreement with the Canadian government, the Dogrib Nation are supported in environmental stewardship of Dogrib lands. Diga’s music highlights the Tłı̨chǫ language, and builds towards the regrowth of a culture that works to protect and nurture the land.
“New River” by The Oh Hellos
Texan siblings Maggie and Tyler Heath began The Oh Hellos, which later expanded to include an ensemble of musician friends. The Oh Hellos’ songs are stories wrapped around strings, percussion, and vocals. “New River” comes from Notos, an album named for one of the Greco-Roman wind gods. The song calls attention to the inherence of change in the natural world and the unstoppability of natural phenomena like erosion and storms.
Though I could only fit five songs, I would add more from all of these artists if I had the space. Look through the discography of everyone mentioned here — I promise something will make you feel like nature is singing directly to you.