Music for Seasons of Change

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Apr 17, 2023 / 0 comments

In the northern hemisphere, spring is coming on; to the south of the globe, it is autumn. Both of those are seasons of change, and seasons of resilience. Seasons in which noticing and exploring changes in nature can help one’s perspective on changing and shifting times.

Music for Seasons of Change

Music to go along with these ideas:

Lauren MacColl is a musician, a fiddle player, and composer from the north of Scotland. You’ve met her music here before.

When she’s not involved in her music, Lauren enjoys climbing mountains, especially those near her Highland home. Many of these are Munros, the name for mountains in Scotland which rise above 3000 feet/914.4 meters tall.

That led her husband, Ewan MacPherson, to write the song She Climbs the Munros on the occasion of their wedding.

As a solo artist, MacPherson (who is also known for his ensemble work with indie-folk trio Salt House, acid-croft band Shooglenifty, and Nu-Nordic quartet Fribo) goes by the name Hushman. That is also the name of the album on which you will find She Climbs the Munros. With MacPherson on guitar and lead voice, you will hear MacColl on fiddle on the track, alongside backing vocals from Kim Carnie and piano from Thomas Hein.

The music that The Bow Tides make comes from Irish, Scottish, French, Galician, and other Celtic musics. They also also write original tunes which draw on those traditions. Band members come from New England and the midwest in the US, and while other musical commitments fill each of their calendars, when they meet up, there’s spark and sparkle in what they do.

The three fiddlers in the band, Jessie Burns, Katie Grennan, and Ellery Klein—all at one time, but not all at the same time—were members of the top Irish-American band Gaelic Storm. For the band’s debut album, Sailing On, they are joined by Jeff Lindblade on guitar and Eric Thorin on bass. Lively as well quieter pieces fill the recording, offered with clarity and creativity.

The four musicians who are Scottish quartet Westward the Light had worked in different combinations before deciding to join up as a band. Charlie Grey, Sally Simpson, Owen Sinclair, and Joseph Peach bring skills on a range on acoustic instruments to the mix, with a common plan to, as they put it, “make instrumental Scottish music in a way both true to their traditional roots, and pointing to the future.”

The group’s second recording, Flow Country, follows that goal well, with its mix of trad from Scotland and Ireland and original tunes. Sally Simpson’s tune Good Days seems especially well-suited to the hopeful aspects of seasonal change.

Wild Mountain Thyme is a seasonal song also, as well as a love song, or depending on how you hear it, a song about someone looking for a new love. It has been recorded many times with many excellent versions. On a New Year’s Eve past in Scotland, the band Manran with Kim Carnie singing lead added another to that list of fine versions of the song.

You may also wish to look for Manran’s album Urar and Kim Carnie’s solo recording called And So We Gather.

Speaking of seasonal change and good songs, John Spillane, who comes from Cork in Ireland, was performing his song The Wild Flowers one evening and it caught the ear of Irish American singer Cathie Ryan, who is based in County Louth. A fine songwriter herself, Ryan knew that this was a song she needed to sing. You will find Ryan’s take on the song on her album called The Farthest Wave.

Carrie Newcomer’s imagination was caught a different aspect of resilience: a plumb line, which is a tool that helps carpenters know if something is vertical, straight up and down. Newcomer, who is based in Indiana, explores how this idea might play out in day-to-day life and thought in her song The Plumb Line, which is on her album The Point of Arrival.

Thrift is the name for a plant that grows at coastal edges in Scotland, hanging on and growing through wild water, wave, and wind. Thinking about that led Karine Polwart to the story she tells in the song Thrift.

She wrote it as part of the Spell Songs Lost Words project. You will hear the other Spell Songs musicians Beth Porter, Kris Drever, Jim Molyneux, Seckou Keita, Rachel Newton, and Julie Fowlis join in on the song, which you will find recorded on the album Spell Songs II: Let the Light In.

Mountains to wild flowers, hard times and good days: may the creativity of these musicians help you find peace and resilience through these shifting times.



Thank you for staying with us through this journey. Below, you'll find a link that will take you to an article which has a bit more backstory on the series. It also has links to a number of the stories, including ones called Listening for Community, Music for Winter's Changes, and The Geography of Hope.

Music for Shifting Times

Music for Shifting Times



Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. 

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road.