If you live in Nashville, you may have noticed a bit of pressure hanging in the air. And I’m not speaking barometrically. Music is – in a literal sense- a way of life for many of us. As such, What Type of Music One is Into (or Not Into) is common fodder for almost any conversation.
Whether sharing a cafe table with a stranger during the lunch rush, trying not to look ambiguous when lurking by What-You’re-Pretty-Sure-is-a-Tour-Bus, or on a first date, musical tastes are never far down the list of topics up for discussion. [The date scenario is partly in jest. But I can admit I have “ruled out” a candidate or two based on his questionable musical choices; or on his dismissal of a favorite band or record of my own.]
So, if music is such a vast galaxy of shimmery, swirly, white-hot possibilities, why the pressure?
Because I have realized (in spite of the after-school-special type things I tell myself to the contrary) that I will always want other people to think I’m cool. At least a little bit. Even if it is in a “that girl is odd, but at least she is confidently odd and I can dig that” kind of way. I want people to know that I am well-versed. That I have diversified, eclectic tastes. That I listen to a variety of genres and regularly use terms like “fusion”, “chamber”, and “Afrobeat” with aloof indifference.
But, when faced with the whole of Music, I have to- well- face the music. There are lots of bands I don’t know, lots of producers whose credentials I couldn’t care less about, and lots of genres of which I have barely scratched the surface. The frustrating part of that is I want to listen to it all, weighing the merits of each and every note with delicacy and precision. But this is impossible. So I turn to the liberating part of the realization. I am free to enjoy what I enjoy at my own pace, and to delve into the minutia of whatever genre, artist, or label on which I choose to become an expert. It’s a labor of love. And today you guys get the fruit: a tiny little bushel though it may be in the scheme of things.
I do not pretend to deny that “low key”, “laid back”, “quiet”, and “stuff that puts you to sleep in a good way” cannot be applied to the majority of my music catalog. I have spent a long time exploring the Melloverse. And it has some beautiful things to offer. So I bring you my Ten Favorite Mellow Albums (with an audio/video track from each; insert usual disclaimer about how I don’t own any of it here.) It’s a sampler platter, piled high with morsels of musical deliciousness! Oh boy, oh boy!
10. Come Away With Me (Norah Jones) “The Nearness of You” (originally by Cole Porter)
9. Lou Rhodes (One Good Thing) “One Good Thing”
8. Sondre Lerche (Sondre Lerche) “Two Way Monologues”
7. Songs for Christmas (Sufjan Stevens) “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
6. Up to Now (Snow Patrol) “Run”
5. Brett Dennen (Brett Dennen) “The One Who Loves You the Most”
4. The Shepherd’s Dog (Iron and Wine) “Boy with a Coin”
3. O (Damien Rice) “Cannonball”
2. We Were Here- (Joshua Radin) “Sky” (feat. Ingrid Michaelson)
1. Poetry and Aeroplanes (Teitur) “I Was Just Thinking”
Mellow may not be your thing. I suppose I can (begrudgingly appear to) appreciate that. But with any luck, these selections will spark your interest enough to send you tumbling head first into the placid sea of all that is lyrical and laid back. (Sort of like Augustus Gloop into the chocolate river: except you won’t almost drown, or be serenaded by creepy little orange men. At least I highly doubt that will happen.)
There are many more great records that didn’t make the list. Not because they were without beauty or merit, but because I wanted to give you a gender-diverse list, that mixed the familiar with the lesser known. I hope you are able to sit back, relax, and appreciate this little cluster of sweet delights. Perhaps you will even add your own selections to the list, or try something new.
No pressure, though.