Unlike Christmas, Thanksgiving doesn’t have its own genre of music. While you can find a few songs about turkeys and thankfulness, it’s unlikely your favorite band has released a Thanksgiving single, let alone a whole album for the holiday. However, this also leaves Thanksgiving music more open to interpretation. This Thanksgiving playlist emphasizes gentle music that won’t detract from conversation or cause relatives to raise eyebrows. With an acoustic and folk lean, this playlist’s sound calls up outdoorsy, earthy fall associations.
“Shine” by Benjamin Francis Leftwich
Leftwich’s soft, even vocals paired with the light acoustic guitar give the song a gentle feel. The lyrics follow suit with an almost innocent kindness. Lines like “I hope you find what you’re looking for, so your heart is warm forever,” are soothing words of encouragement.
“Georgia” by Vance Joy
The finger picking Joy uses in “Georgia” gives the song intricacy without being distracting. Although acoustic, the track is lively with lines like “she is electricity running through my soul,” not just heard but felt through Joy’s emotive vocals.
“One Red Thread” by Blind Pilot
Blind Pilot’s indie-folk sound makes its music ideal for laid-back Thanksgiving listening. Lead vocalist Israel Nebeker’s soothing voice sings of breaking from the red string of fate: “Man, oh man, you can do what you want.”
“Welcome Home” by The Welcome Home
This song has a spiritual quality to it, but regardless of that, “Welcome Home” is just a comforting song. In particular, the recurring lyric “You’re always welcome home,” is a reassuring sentiment. The song’s light sound furthers its feeling of safety.
“There’s a Lot of Us in Here” by Penny and Sparrow
While Penny and Sparrow lyrics often lean towards the dark and sometimes grotesque, Andy Baxter’s vocals distort the enunciation of the words enough that they are not obtrusive. The song’s mellow sound, led by the strumming of an acoustic guitar, makes it a fitting background song for Thanksgiving festivities.
“Intrepid” by Prinegrove
The lo-fi sound Pinegrove uses on “Intrepid” gives the vocals an extra punch, popping out at certain points. Breaking up the smoother indie sounds, this song provides a grungier vibe. In this track, the churning guitars vary between being highlighted and moving to the back allow the song to surface, making listeners aware of it. This gives the track interest, preventing it from becoming white noise, without being disruptive.
“Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart
“Rivers and Roads” thematically matches the sentiment of Thanksgiving. Lines like “A year from now we’ll all be gone, all our friends will move away,” emphasize impermanence and an appreciation for the present. Thanksgiving is a holiday where friends and family make an extra effort to be together, and cross “rivers and roads” to reach one another.
“The Forest” by José González
The largely instrumental track “The Forest” has an ethereal quality to it. The plucked strings are reminiscent of the rain González mentions in the lyrics. However, it is the flute that boosts the otherworldly atmosphere, suggestive of a nymph playing a woodwind in the forest.
“Culdesac Sadness” by Paper Lights
The pulsing electronic sound underscoring this track makes it a more adventurous choice.
Somewhere between a buzz and a hum, the electronic sound gains a sleek metallic sound opening up the chorus for a more enveloping sensation.
“Featherstone” by The Paper Kites
The steady, muted strumming on acoustic guitar forms the base for “Featherstone.” The tightly layered vocals hover over this foundation and an additional plucked guitar adds a shimmering sound in the background. The mellow sound, diversified towards the end by trumpets, has a tender quality suitable for a Thanksgiving gathering.