Leith Ross' "Music Box" Will Send You Down an Amber-Hued Nostalgia Trip

Photo: Jennifer Doerksen

Leith Ross, indie folk’s celebrated artisan of lyrical genius, is about to send you down a nostalgia spiral with their new single, “Music Box,” and I think you’re going to love it. Ross could break your heart in ten words or less, baring their soul over tranquil acoustic guitar finger-picking and poignant melodies. They write with casual witchery, somehow naming every un-nameable emotion with understated elegance.

“Music Box” is a slow-motion retracing of childhood memories, evoking a stirring nostalgia summed up perfectly in the musing of the final verse, “Oh the places in your dreams / are they fiction or memory?” It begs the question, was everything as magical as it seems in retrospect? Was childhood as warm and dew-strewn as I remember, or is that a rosy film shrouding my memories?

Ross portrays this emotion in every layer of their arrangement. An acoustic guitar dances through a light, lullabying progression, and percussion quietly decorates the track. A blanket of nature ambience acts as the foundation for the arrangement – that telltale hum of a humid summer night, with buzzing cicadas and droning frogs, acting as an instrumental layer.

A rich, whispery harmony glances along the lower octave of the melody, performed by Rae Chen (aka the ever-innovative artist tofusmell). To me, this harmony feels like the muted voice of realism creeping into an otherwise saccharine memory. Chen simultaneously provides body and warmth to the vocal, while also hinting at the nuance of the song.

“Music Box” is haunting in the breeziest of ways. It’s meditative and sentimental and simply exists in its own world, a testament to Leith Ross’ signature world of cinematic indie-folk.

Watch the "Music Box" lyric video below:

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