Quintessential Spring Albums

Piano in a garden
Christy Clark

Impact’s Christy highlights his top essential albums for Spring and why he has picked them. 

There seems to be a Gen-Z trend to listen to playlists over albums: to entrust ourselves, or others like us, to curate the music we listen to and the order in which one song flows into the next.  

But I’m on the side of the artist. The power of the album. As Adele tweeted after Spotify removed the shuffle button at her request, “Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended.” So, with the ingenuity of the artist in mind, here are the albums, ‘stories’, I feel best reflect the season of spring in all its glory. 

Vampire Weekend, ‘Father of the Bride’, (2019) 

I think I’m in the minority in that I’ve never listened in full to Vampire Weekend’s debut, self-titled 2008 album. Given how great I think ‘FotB’ is, I probably should.  

From the rhythmic This Life to the enthralling Sunflower – which will have you dancing through flower fields in tandem with Steve Lacy’s mesmerising guitar skills, the 18-track album comes close to an hour long but it’s worth every minute. 

Eclectic genre-wise, drawing on R&B, folk, country, soul, indie, rock, and pop

Eclectic genre-wise, drawing on R&B, folk, country, soul, indie, rock, and pop, the record provides an immersion into the true luxuries of the season. Ezra Koenig, the band’s lead singer, even sighted the queen of spring, Kacey Musgraves, as a song-writing influence, which tells you everything really. 

Arlo Parks, ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’, (2020) 

The first time I heard ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ I wondered why on earth I hadn’t listened earlier, how it had escaped me for so long. Parks’ amalgamation of the spoken word and song, blended with the flirtation of indie, R&B, and bedroom pop makes for a truly unique listen from one of the UK’s brightest upcoming stars. 

The commitment to the natural world and understanding our place in it pervades the album, evident in the sublime poetry of the title track and my personal favourite, Green Eyes. Parks simultaneously reflects on the heteronormative society we live in, and infuses the track with an amazing spring clarity. From the clean slate of “Paintin’ Kaia’s bedroom”, to “Dragonfruit and peaches in the wine”, it’s an immediate spring classic. 

(Note: her new album, ‘My Soft Machine’, comes out this spring, surely another contender for a place on this list (maybe next year)). 

Cassandra Jenkins, ‘An Overview on Phenomenal Nature’, (2021) 

Probably the least well-known album on the list, but certainly one at the forefront of my vision of spring, Cassandra Jenkins’ sophomore album is phenomenally understated. Like Parks, she mutters spoken word poetry before breaking into song, ruminating on her past experiences and starting to accept a new version of herself, all over a folky soundtrack. 

the album is so universally meant for spring

One of the standouts, New Bikini, tells of fisherman Warren’s mother imploring, “go get in the ocean […] The water, it cures everything.”  Later, among descriptions of a security guard in America, and getting her driving license at 35 in Hard Drive, Jenkins offers a profound truth: “When we lose our connection to nature, we lose our spirit, our humanity, our sense of self.”  It’s in moments like these that the album is so universally meant for spring. Accepting our bodies and minds as new life returns to the landscape, as the days get longer and more drawn out. 

Sufjan Stevens, ‘A Beginner’s Mind’, (2021) 

When I think of spring, one of the first names that comes to mind is Sufjan Stevens. Whilst ‘Carrie and Lowell’ and  ‘Illinois’ also come to mind, 2021’s ‘A Beginner’s Mind’, a collaboration with Angelo De Augustine, offers everything one could hope for in the musical intimation of the season. 

It’s typical Sufjan: folky, relaxed yet emotionally intensive, highly spiritual

It’s typical Sufjan: folky, relaxed yet emotionally intensive, highly spiritual – in Reach Out he sings of “The guiding light that opened up my mind.” Yet there’s a deeper, darker layer to Sufjan’s lyrics, culminating in the devastating Lacrimae, which ends with Stevens asking, “Why must this life be so cruel?”. 

Every song on the record is inspired by a song, a new way of provoking musical thought, and one that works profoundly in this body of work. A must listen. 

Hozier, ‘Hozier’, (2014) 

Somehow, Hozier’s albums are applicable to all seasons. Whether in the deepest winter or the latter end of summer, his music has a way of resonating beyond the time of year. Essential for all months. 

‘Hozier’ thrives on classical reference, from the devil-narrated From Eden, which features one of the most iconic bridges in recent years, to the religiously critical Take Me To Church, which dominated airwaves yet remains listenable. Someone New finds the singer falling in love “just a little”, and Cherry Wine flows just about as freely as the late-spring fixture.  

I can’t quite explain why this album makes it onto the list, it’s not as blatantly springy as some of the albums past, but as aforementioned, ‘Hozier’, both the singer and the album, have ways of pushing beyond boundaries and thriving sheerly on excellence. 

Kacey Musgraves, ‘Golden Hour’, (2018) 

It seems appropriate to finish with surely the most evocative album of the season. Musgraves engraves every inch of herself into this deeply personal album, it even earnt her Album of the Year at the Grammys. From daffodil fields to new life and the fractions of sunshine after late winter’s slumber, ‘Golden Hour’ is the perfect album to embrace the start of the season. 

What an album

I struggle to outline one song in particular, all are excellent, but Butterflies, which dwells on Musgrave’s lover, and Oh, What A World, which concerns itself with the overflowing affection felt towards the planet, are standouts. They’re all standouts. What an album. 

P.S. If I had to include every album that reminds me of spring, it’d be summer by the time you reached the end of the piece. Here are a few more of my spring picks that didn’t quite make the cut. 

Fiona Apple, ‘The Idler Wheel’, (2015) 

Elliott Smith, ‘XO’, (1998) 

Tyler the Creator, ‘Flower Boy’, (2017) 

Nick Drake, ‘Pink Moon’, (1972) 

Taylor Swift, ‘Folklore’, (2020) 

Clairo, ‘Sling’, (2021) 

Christy Clark 

Featured image courtesy of Ben Collins via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

In-article videos courtesy of Vampire Weekend, Arlo Parks, Cassandra Jenkins, Sufjan Stevens, Hozier, K A C E Y M U S G R A V E S via YouTube.com. No changes were made to these videos.

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