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The 100 Best Indie Folk Albums

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The 100 Best Indie Folk Albums

No music genre is particularly easy to define, but “indie folk” is about as nebulous as they come. It also happens to roughly encapsulate many of my favorite albums. When I’m splurging on vinyl, indie folk is likelier to fill in missing albums by Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine and Father John Misty than even classic ‘60s soul. In compiling our rankings here, we’ve defined its era as beginning in 1972 with Nick Drake’s seminal Pink Moon, being mostly ignored until the mid-’90s with acts like Elliott Smith and Gillian Welch, and then booming right around the time we launched Paste in 2002. In fact, reading through this list is overwhelmingly nostalgic, as much a time capsule of the writers and editors we’ve worked with these last 15 years as of the musicians who’ve often graced the cover and pages (both paper and virtual) of our magazine since its inception.

Musically, we’re looking at that glorious amalgamation of tradition folk elements (acoustic instruments and vocal styles) with the burgeoning indie-rock scene—or, occasionally, electronic elements applied to folk music. These albums are filled with folky songs that would be at home on college radio next to post-rock and dance tracks. There’s overlap with alt-country, coffeehouse singer/songwriters, orchestral pop and indie rock, but we did our best to grab albums that felt like “indie folk,” whether the artist was recorded in their bedroom or released it on a major label. There was plenty of argument among our staff about who was too hard-rock, too straight alt-country or just didn’t fit our definitions. But these are the albums our music writers and editors felt were the very best indie-folk albums ever made. If you’d like to chime in with your own opinion on what makes an album “indie folk” or what albums we missed, visit our Facebook page.

We limited our list to two albums per artist, and even then only noting second albums from a handful of key artists.

Here are the 100 Best Indie Folk Albums of All Time.

stornoway-beach.jpg 100. Stornoway – Beachcomber’s Windowsill (2010)
With bouncy bass lines and bright vocals, British chamber-pop quartet Stornoway recalls all the best qualities of ‘90s 120 Minutes darlings The Ocean Blue with a chamber-pop/indie-folk twist. The 11 tracks, while not always overflowing with joy, convey a sort of contentment that you’d expect from four friends enjoying a new chapter of life that involves playing music for a living. Employing cello, horns, organ and banjo, songs like “Zorbing” and “I Saw You Blink” beg for the repeat button. —Josh Jackson

beirut-no.jpg 99. Beirut – No No No (2015)
Beirut may have begun as the solo project of singer/songwriter Zach Condon, but the musical globetrotter credits the rest of his now-five-piece band for helping turn the fragments he’d written during the tumultuous period after 2011’s The Rip Tide into a cohesive album. Few bands operate in musical territory all their own, but the way horns weave through these tender ballads remains unique and gives the music a distinct bittersweetness as teasingly joyous melodies belie Condon’s snippets of loneliness and heartache. Every time a song like “Perth” offers a cheery groove, Condon undercuts it with lyrics like “You saw me at my worst / Ragged tires burning for miles / I ran until it hurt.” Condon lost love and then found it while making this record, but rather than write songs about either, he managed to infuse every song on the record with bits of both, a beautiful jumble of emotions that hits you all at once. —Josh Jackson

jaffe-suburban.jpg 98. Sarah Jaffe – Suburban Nature (2008)
Sarah Jaffe  is a lot like her home state of Texas. Wide-open, humble and matter-of-fact, she crafts beautiful, raw songs that “are what they are” in the very best way. Playing like a wise, witty diary entry marked with teardrops, growing pains and effusive honesty, her debut album, Suburban Nature, ebbs and flows on a sea of candid relationship narratives. “Love is interesting, because when two people come together that way, it can be really hostile and beautiful at the same time,” she said of the inspiration for the album’s 13 songs, some of which were written before Jaffe graduated from high school. —Melanie Gomez

one-plus-one.jpg 97. Badly Drawn Boy – One Plus One Is One (2004)
The poorly illustrated Damon Gaugh had already proven himself a masterful arranger, deftly weaving vignettes, tangents, instrumental interludes and miniature movements into the space of three- to five-minute pop songs. His fourth release—a much sparer, acoustic creation—is no less carefully arranged. Nearly all of the 16 songs on One Plus One Is One feature ADD-accomodating instrumental and dynamic shifts. Children’s choirs, café chatter, hand claps, ticking clocks and ambient noise liven the mix and dispel the feeling of gimmickry. The instrumentation is remarkably subtle, especially the muted banjo running through “Logic of a Friend,&#8221 and the soft accordion buried in the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-ish outro of the album’s closer, “Holy Grail.” For a collection of heartfelt, affirming and coolly optimistic songs, the intricate production is careful enough to propel the music along, rather than bog it down in a mire of overzealous meddling. —Josh Jackson

lovers-leavers.jpg 96. Hayes Carll – Lovers and Leavers (2016)
Lovers and Leavers is the finest work of Hayes Carll’s career, even if it’s very different from what came before. It’s a quieter album, recorded mostly with a stripped-down trio—with occasional splashes of keys and steel added here and there. It’s a more thoughtful collection—with the choruses more likely to contain epiphanies than punchlines. Into the spaces where the stomping and joking once were comes a sobering awareness of the losses that shadow every life. That consciousness was always lurking in the background of Carll’s songs, but here it comes into the foreground. On “Sake of the Song,” over an organ-fueled Memphis blues, he sings: “Hitchhiking, bus riding, rental cars, living rooms, coffee houses, run-down bars, 10,000 people or alone under the stars, it’s all for the sake of the song.” As the number sprawls across a dozen verses, Carll tallies up all the pluses and minuses of the music life—the “record deals and trained seals” and the chance to “tell your truth however you choose”—but refuses to conclude that one outweighs the other. Instead he presents the listener—as he does on all the album’s songs—with the unsatisfying reality that life is a package deal, a series of tradeoffs, and leaves us to draw our own conclusions. —Geoffrey Himes

loney-noir.jpg 95. Loney, dear – Loney, Noir (2007)
While some musicians spend thousands of dollars on fancy recording studios and renowned producers, Sweden’s Emil Svanängen—aka Loney, Dear—holes up in his parents’ basement with a computer, a pile of instruments and a stack of CD-Rs. And while some may label his baklava-layered masterwork as a cold fusion of Belle & Sebastian and Kelley Stultz with a side of Swedish meatball, this is selling his joyous confessional short “I Am John” is basement-pop perfection. Somewhere far, far away, Brain Wilson’s muse and Barry Gibb’s voice coach are jealous. If I had had this track in my eight-track arsenal during my first co-ed slumber party, I would have been much luckier. If only sucking helium could make me sound that good. “I am John” was the close-eyes-shake-head-and-smile song of 2007. —Jay Sweet

rabbit-songs.jpg 94. Hem – Rabbit Songs (2002)
In a musical landscape populated by artists arming themselves with irony and attitude, Hem’s nakedly honest approach stands out. Rabbit Songs, the band’s first effort, made many critics’ best-of-2002 lists, including Paste’s. Evidence of how Hem’s music connects so deeply with listeners can be found in a personal story—that of my first child’s birth. Before heading to the hospital, my wife and I had the presence of mind to gather up a few much-loved CDs for the nerve-wracking hours ahead; one of them was Rabbit Songs. Dan Messé’s lyrics—delivered by Sally Ellyson’s dulcet voice and backed by richly intricate arrangements—mine deep veins of heartrending poignancy. Hem’s songs provoke feelings associated with a father telling his son to be brave; with committed lovers sharing an embrace in the darkest hours of the night; with a new child arriving the same day one receives news of a parent’s passing—or in our case, with the appearance of our firstborn. —Reid Davis

middle-brother.jpg 93. Middle Brother – Middle Brother (2011)
Very rarely does a supergroup manage to come up with something as good as the sum of its parts. Just like a movie starring a crowd of A-listers doesn’t necessarily equal anything Oscar-worthy (we’re looking at you, Ocean’s 12), it isn’t a given that a band with three frontmen will be able to effectively pool its talents. But the men of Middle Brother sound as if they’ve been playing together for years. John McCauley (Deer Tick), Matt Vasquez (Delta Spirit) and Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes) take turns singing lead, and from the first harmonies on “Daydreaming” it’s clear that we’ve got a true collaboration on our hands. At times they sound so in tune with one another that Middle Brother starts to feel like a concept album, like a time capsule crafted by the trio of rock troubadours to document their rise to fame. We get the sense that in addition to their shared influences, the members of Middle Brother have plenty of common experiences in their pasts. —Bonnie Stiernberg

white-lighter.jpg 92. Typhoon – White Lighter (2013)
Recorded on the sprawling Pendarvis Farm, about 30 minutes outside the band’s hometown, White Lighter takes the utopian aesthetic of its locale and translates it into music. The band’s comparatively enormous size—marked by a horn section, string section and eclectic percussion—naturally exudes a boisterous optimism and familial charm. However, that positive sound also seems to mask the album’s dystopian themes. Death is all over White Lighter, and it’s that combination that makes White Lighter so entrancing, serving as both a warning and a celebration of mortality. —Hilary Saunders

sprained-ankle.jpg 91. Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle (2015)
She may be uncomfortable talking about her substance abuse, a near-death experience and failed relationships, but Memphis singer-songwriter Julien Baker uses her music as a safe space to examine her past. Baker’s skill lies in her narrative songwriting, which pierces her experiences to the bone. Now, sober, having quit even cigarettes, Baker works out her troubles on Sprained Ankle, a collection of beautifully arranged folk songs using mostly her voice, a guitar and reverb. After playing in a post-rock band in high school, she began to rein in her demons and write on her own. Out came lyrics about wrapping a car around a streetlamp, having more whiskey than blood in her veins, time spent in ambulances, of an unbearable break-up with her girlfriend, and facing mortality. These songs were more personal than her earlier efforts, and rather than take a poetic look at her misgivings, Baker is brutally honest about the ugliness she faced. Her lyrical battles are not only with herself, but also with God, like Jacob wrestling the angel. —Roman Gokhman

dry-food.jpg 90. Palehound – Dry Food (2015)
Ellen Kempner’s guitar prowess is Palehound’s staff of light, a six-stringed burning ember that guides you through her fractured song structures and doleful take on coming-of-age. That’s the basis of Dry Food, an eight-song exploration of Kempner’s mental inner space during the period of 2013 and ‘14. Complex dynamics keep the tracks from blending together into a giant collage, like the colorful travel-magazine cutouts that make up the cover art. The only constants are Kempner’s guitar and whispering vocals, which draw you into her dark world on tracks like “Molly,” where her counter-melody guitar riff gets attacked by fuzzed-out power chords. Kempner’s soft vocals puncture the heart with earnestness on tracks like “Dry Food” and create distance with the reverb-soaked “Cinnamon,” where her voice interweaves masterfully with gently strummed chords. Dry Food bleeds with emotional truth through a thorny lineage to Kurt Cobain-esque dissociation and mental anguish—which is why it was written in isolation, with Kempner playing all the parts except for drums. Dry Food seems possessed by the ghost of Elliott Smith—there are painful reminders all over this record of what it feels like to be tortured, lonely, abused and directionless—which can be exhausting through eight sugar-free songs. Most of Kempner’s lyrics aren’t easy to decipher, either, but combined with nuanced minor key changes, and juxtaposed with her childlike falsetto, they remind you of the dark-twinkle in the eyes of Sylvia Plath, where nothing is as it seems—like daydreaming over magazine cutouts of paradise, beyond reach. —Art Tavana

beat-champ.jpg 89. The Mountain Goats – Beat the Champ (2015)
John Darnielle—the songwriter, singer, bandleader and driving force of The Mountain Goats—has a number of somewhat surprising passions. One is death metal, to which he’s paid homage in several songs, notably the classic “The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton.” Another is pro wrestling, and it’s into this arena that he introduced his record, Beat the Champ. That’s right, every single song here is about pro wrestling (albeit usually of the decidedly minor-league variety). As could be expected, Darnielle approaches the subject with uncommon sensitivity and insight, gifting some of his most tender moments of recognition to the perpetual villains of the melodrama (“Throw my better self overboard / Shoot at him when he comes up for air”). But in an album full of rip-your-heart out moments, Darnielle saves the most powder for his ode to a real-life childhood hero of his, Chavo Guerrero. Anyone familiar with Darnielle’s childhood (or too many of our own) can’t help but thrill to the sounds of “I need justice in my life, and here it comes / Look high / It’s my last hope / Chavo Guerrero / Coming off the top rope.” Fly high, Chavo. —Michael Dunaway

ritter-runs.jpg 88. Josh Ritter – So Runs the World Away (2010)
Idaho native and Brooklyn transplant Josh Ritter hit a beautiful stride on his sixth album, a soulful combination of conversational folk ballads and powerful gut punches. Ritter’s the kind of artist who will always draw comparisons to legends like Bob Dylan and contemporaries like Ryan Adams—and while So Runs the World Away contains a handful of songs that make those comparisons easy, it also never sways from his unmistakable cadence. He whispers on “The Curse,” stomps on “The Remnant” and, yes, matter-of-factly evokes Dylan on “Folk Bloodbath” when he explains with scratchy sincerity, “That’s the sad thing with life / There’s people always leavin’ just as other folks arrive.” He’s not the only one channeling the greats, but he does it better than almost anyone else. —Jenna Woginrich

let-it-die.jpg 87. Feist – Let It Die (2004)
Feist  made her entry into the much-ballyhooed Canadian Invasion of the ‘00s with this cozy and concertedly atmospheric major-label debut (the album was originally released in 2004 on Arts & Crafts). Tapping a fertile market with her pseudo-jazzy spare/lavish stylings, the album exposed a genuine talent to the wider herds. In the end, it’s the little touches that make Let It Die stand out from the Nic Harcourt-approved female-crooner clutter—the kiss of nylon guitar strings on “Mushaboom,” the deftly doubled vocals on “One Evening” and the cute finger snaps and koto twang on the aptly titled “Leisure Suite.” In a genre where it’s hard to escape producing mere sonic wallpaper, Feist generated a dazzling interior constellation for your candlelit, post-midnight ceiling-gazing needs. —Jeff Leven

strange-trails.jpg 86. Lord Huron – Strange Trails (2015)
Lord Huron’s gorgeous sophomore effort, Strange Trails, came out in 2015, but its lush, woodsy melodies and genteel vocal harmonies make it sound like an artifact from the mid-’00s Fleet Foxes/Band of Horses/M. Ward indie-folk boom. Leaving aside any release-date cognitive dissonance, Strange Trails is a pleasure from beginning to end, with Ben Schneider’s reedy voice leading cuts both dreamy slow (opener “Love Like Ghosts”) and dance-party fast (the hand-clapped “Fool for Love”). Even Netflix teen drama 13 Reasons Why caught on, with its music supervisor soundtracking an emotionally pivotal scene to the album’s haunting closer, “The Night We Met.” The aforementioned “Fool for Love” also closed out the episode with Marnie’s (ultimately doomed) wedding on GIRLS. It makes sense that music supervisors keep retreading Lord Huron’s Strange Trails. Any romantic could accept it as the soundtrack of their lives. —Rachel Brodsky

a-larum.jpg 85. Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Wit – A Larum (2008)
English boarding-school alum, former choirboy, and erstwhile Royal Shakespeare Company actor Johnny Flynn goes slumming on his debut album, adopting a Dickensian ragamuffin persona that is so engaging that you quickly forget that he’s never gone dumpster diving in his life. There are echoes of Trad stalwarts throughout—Martin Carthy and Mike Waterson in the singing, Bert Jansch in the supple guitar work—but Flynn is no retro iconoclast, and his biting social commentary owes more to Billy Bragg than Billy Billington. The Sussex Wit, Flynn’s backing band, unleashes a frenzied Pogues approximation behind him. Alarum (a Shakespearian term for general mayhem) is a fitting title for an impressive debut. —Andy Whitman

fire-no-witness.jpg 84. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness (2016)
Angel Olsen’s beautiful, sad and, ultimately, useful sophomore album, Burn Your Fire for No Witness is an experience obsessed with heartbreak, and engaging the record with a heavy heart of your own is excruciating—near-torture. But this is how Angel Olsen deserves to be absorbed, with empathy—knowing her pain and resolve and bravery, and using it for your own strength. It’s an album that tells the world we are not alone. It’s like Olsen was reading the language of heartbeats and sighed breaths and watery eyes. Closing number “Windows” asks “Won’t you open a window sometime? What’s so wrong with the light? Wind in your hair, sun in your eyes.” She so wants to love and to be loved that it’s as plain and simple as an open window and the sun shining in, and it confuses and torments her that her object of desire doesn’t see the world the same way. It’s the tragedy of any love that doesn’t work, and Olsen seems so willing to give that your heart can’t help but break for her. Her dry, almost rusty voice is pain made audible, like this isn’t her first heartbreak, like she’s endured lifetime after lifetime of them. Olsen shares graciously in her music, and if you are willing, Burn a Fire for No Witness will change your world—or, rather, it will change how you see your world. —Philip Cosores

nothing-wrong.jpg 83. Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong (2011)
Two years after releasing their debut, North Hills, the men of Dawes hit the road for a long tour. Forced to write in the free time they were afforded, the songs on Nothing Is Wrong are marked by the qualities of a band in motion. “These days my friends don’t seem to know me / Without my suitcase in my hand,” Taylor Goldsmith sings in the opening track, “Time Spent in Los Angeles.” But despite the uncertainty and bouts of solitude that often come with life on the road, Goldsmith seems to find freedom in his travels. “Maybe cause I come from such an empty-hearted town / Or maybe cause some love of mine had really let me down,” he says on “If I Wanted Someone.” “But the only time I am lonely is when others are around / I just never end up knowing what to say.” Musically, on the other hand, there’s no worry that Dawes has lost its way. The songwriting and emotion are just as impressive on Nothing is Wrong as they were on North Hills. The influence of the North Hills and Laurel Canyon music scenes are still present as well, right down to Jackson Browne’s supporting vocals on “Fire Away.” Two years of fine-tuning their live sound made all the members of Dawes master musicians not only individually, but as a collective. Alex Casnoff’s work on the keys shines on nearly every track; Wylie Gelber maybe one of the most tasteful bassists ever, and young Griffin Goldsmith’s percussion is rock steady and incredibly impressive. But it is the sum of all these parts that makes Nothing is Wrong something truly special. —Wyndham Wyath

man-alive.jpg 82. Thao and the Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive (2016)
Gone are the John Congleton-produced horn arrangements and blues piano of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down’s excellent previous release, We The Common. In their place is tUnE-yArDs’ Merrill Garbus’ electronic organica, which elevates Thao Nguyen’s most deeply introspective, experimental and well-formed release. A Man Alive is a dissection of Thao’s relationship with the father who left her family when she was young. Under Garbus’s guidance, there’s a newfound energy here—the tribal drum-laden and arresting vocal layers of “Meticulous Bird” and “Fool Forever” aren’t a far cry from tuNe-yArDs’ output. They serve to allow Thao to breathe and flex before embarking on a number of knee-buckling lyrical trips. When the mish-mash of Garbus and Thao’s sounds fuse, it can break you to pieces in the most powerful ways possible. —Adrian Spinelli

Maraqopa.jpg 81. Damien Jurado – Maraqopa (2012)
Damien Jurado  wasn’t kidding when he told fans that this release was going to be unlike anything they’d heard from him before. Fifteen years and 10 albums into his career, the Seattle singer-songwriter found his ideal collaborator in producer Richard Swift, who worked with Jurado on 2010’s excellent Saint Bartlett. Where once there was stripped down folk, country and pop rock, Swift helped Jurado flesh out his sound with breezy bossa nova (“This Time Next Year”), a spooky children’s choir (“Life Away From the Garden”) and some ‘70s organ work (“So On, Nevada”). Jurado’s buttery voice, acoustic guitar and world-weary dissatisfaction remain at the center, supplemented by everything from seriously funky shredding on “Nothing Is the News” to seasick Spector psych on “Reel to Reel.” Maraqopa’s experimentations aren’t those of a young musician set loose in a studio full of new toys. Jurado was just hitting his stride. —Rachel Bailey

lone-below.jpg 80. The Lone Bellow – The Lone Bellow (2013)
It’s hard to believe music rooted in tragedy can sweep listeners along with such potent exuberance, but Brooklyn’s The Lone Bellow creates a sweeping country rock that uses the three-part power harmonies of lead singer/writer Zach Williams, guitarist Brian Elmquist and mandolin player Kanene Pipkin to set Williams’s songs ablaze in emotion, passion and the moments when life is at its most extreme. Working with producer Charlie Peacock, The Lone Bellow figured out a way to harness the acoustic-rock template mined by Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers and The Civil Wars, and add a sense of powerful vocal incandescence. If Fleetwood Mac shimmered more, rocked less and were organic without being raw, that might suggest the level of evocative language and romance The Lone Bellow exudes. —Holly Gleason

lions-roar.jpg 79. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar (2012)
Much in the same way the timbre of Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderbergmakes’ voices make them seem older than their years, the songs on The Lions’s Roar seem to be born out of lives lived much longer than their own. How have these young women had the sorts of life experiences to write the stories they do? Their songs are filled with wisdom gained from memories that seem to stretch back a thousand years or more. These are the words of truly old souls. The Lion’s Roar continues much in the same fashion as the folk duo’s first record, but the material here feels a lot bigger, thanks largely to the use of a full band featuring the sisters’ father as well as producer Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott of Bright Eyes. First Aid Kit have never been shy about their American influences, and their affinity for American folk and country music is clear on “Emmylou,” a beautiful track featuring swells of pedal-steel and light taps of wire brushes on the drums. The song is of course named for Emmylou Harris, and brims with the joy and artistry that comes with making music with someone you love, whether it’s Harris with Graham Parsons or June Carter with Johnny Cash. It’s the centerpiece of a gorgeous record. —Wyndham Wyeth

blacklisted.jpg 78. Neko Case – Blacklisted (2002)
Neko Case  has always had a strong voice and a knack for giving gritty stories an ethereal bent. On Blacklisted, her third album, she handled more songwriting on her own and put a finer point on both her narratives and her presence as a performer. Her persona and her music remained dark, mysterious, and a little distant with her voice wrapped in reverb as if she were calling out from a vast, empty space. If Tom Waits is the drunken dreamer caught in the gutter, Case is the woman who put him there. And unlike some of her contemporaries, she never gave up on twang as she developed her own voice. It’s hard to argue that songs like “I Missed the Point” and “Runnin’ Out of Fools” aren’t firmly rooted in Patsy Cline country. Still, Case added a few refinements to her arrangements—the nod to bluegrass on “Things That Scare Me,” the subtle rhythmic shifts in “Deep Red Bells.” And her lyrics—like the chorus of “I Wish I Was the Moon” and the imagery of “Deep Red Bells”—are as beautiful as they are provocative. —Nick A. Zaino III

dream-river.jpg 77. Bill Callahan – Dream River (2013)
Bill Callahan  has an uncanny ability to make you think about life. The images are vivid, the language simple, and the metaphors open to interpretation. His records seem to be made up of a million vivid scenes that combine for a compelling portrait of the human condition. As Dream River progresses, you get a sense of an underlying, almost optimistic love story, one that’s far from perfect and could be real or a dream. And the music matches the dreamlike state of the lyrics. Guitars intertwine softly with slinky bass lines. Flutes chirp like spring birds on “Javelin Unlanding” and “Summer Painter,” while percussion pitters and patters throughout. There are more jazz flourishes than country strums, which adds to the record’s dream sequences. It’s easy to get lost, especially through headphones. Callahan has used his art to make sense of the world, and in turn helps us make some sense of it, too. —Mark Lore

silver-gym.jpg 76. Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium (2013)
Armed with a distinctive howling tenor, a capacity for incorporating several influences in the span of a single track and a skill set for narrating harrowing tales of vice and virtue, Will Sheff has become one of indie rock’s celebrated literary minds. It’s a trend that continues on The Silver Gymnasium. But this time around, Sheff’s theme is his own past, detailing the people and places he knew while growing up in Meriden, N.H., in the ‘80s. By romanticizing his experiences of love and loss, of remembrance and regret, of functioning in the world or feeling paralyzed by it, Sheff produced a standout collection of sordid and stinging stories. The songs on The Silver Gymnasium are packed full of forbidden love, controlling parents, fizzling friendships, premature death, prostitutes and drug addicts, broken-hearted bartenders, car crashes, self-medication, loss of innocence and clinging to the promise of youth as if your life depended on it. Sheff’s songs ooze with longing, and they throw you into a world that is unfamiliar yet immediately recognizable. The album grows on you, and sooner or later its nostalgia becomes your own—only the names and places are different. —Michael Danaher

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