Puddle reflection selfie. Walking in downtown Portland, listening to music. Photo by Aimsel Ponti 

As I write this, it’s a few days before Election Day, and there’s only one thing I know for sure: Regardless of the outcome, there are going to be millions of people who will feel profoundly sad, angry, distraught and just about every other negative emotion out there. It all feels like too much, and it has felt this way for far too long. Add to that the never-ending pandemic with a scary upward trend of cases in Maine, and it’s hard to string together too many feel-good moments.

Honestly, I was at a loss when I sat down to write because I knew I couldn’t proceed like this was a typical week where I joyfully share news of a terrific new local album or some other wonderful thing happening on the music front in Maine (and there are several). I’ll get to some of those in the coming weeks.

All I can offer you now is what I always offer: Music.

Never under estimate the healing powers of music. PowerUp/Shutterstock.com

Here’s a handful of Maine-made songs that don’t mention politics but are instead all about love, understanding and, most of all, humanity. Some are catchy, and some are laced with acute sorrow, but they’re all worth listening to.

It is my sincere hope that you find some solace in them as we all figure out, in our own ways, how to move forward.

“Understand,” by Maine Academy of Modern Music

Playing for Change Day is an international movement dedicated to inspire and connect the world through music. The Playing for Change organization has released several videos of musicians all over the globe playing songs like “Stand By Me” and “The Weight.”

In 2015, the Maine Academy of Modern Music (MAMM) celebrated Playing for Change by releasing a video for the song “Understand,” written by Mainer Frank Hopkins. The clip was shot all in iconic spots all over the state and features dozens of Maine musicians including Hopkins, Lauren Rioux, Kenya Hall, Jeff Beam, Amy Allen, Pete Kilpatrick, Tony McNaboe, The Ghost of Paul Revere, Samuel James, Lyle Divinsky and Sorcha Cribben-Merrill, along with several MAMM students and instructors.

Here are some lyrics to show why “Understand” hits home right now:

We are all just playing out our own roles
We are just doing the best we can
So come on understand, understand
Have some understanding

“Lean Back,” by Andi Fawcett

The track is from the singer-songwriter’s 2010 album “Say It Anyway.” I’ve been a fan of Fawcett’s work going on two decades because her voice has an emotional pull to it that draws me in immediately and doesn’t let go.

Here’s some of the “Lean Back” lyrics:

If you feel like you don’t have the strength
To battle even one single day
And you’ve taken all you can take
Well honey yeah, if you feel like you’re losing your grasp
And it’s taken everything you have
Till you finally have nothing left
That’s when, you should lean back on me

“Live in a New Way,” by Jenny Van West

The track is from Van West’s 2018 album “Happiness to Burn,” and it bursts with optimism and shines like the northern star with hope. It also grooves with organ licks and is an all-around upbeat ditty that will have you tapping your toes and smiling wide.

Here’s my favorite verse:

Some of us are angry
Some of us don’t know what to do
Some of us are weary
Some of us just want to get through
If we can just let go of the hate, might not feel the need to dominate
If we can just admit we’d been wrong, we might have a chance of getting along

“Indiana,” by Kate Schrock

“Indiana” is the title track to the 2003 album by the piano-based singer-songwriter. The song is almost hymn-like with the word “Indiana” sung as the refrain and the rest in spoken word.

Here are my favorite lines:

You think that’s all you got
So you try to hang on
There are reasons greater than these
Greater than what you see before you

“Another life,” by Amos Libby with Douglas Porter

The pair of musicians released the six-song EP “Another Life” in the latter part of last year, and every track is a poignant, introspective meditation.

Here’s some of the words to the title track to show why it made this list:

Please forgive my reckless, wandering, sad words
There all that’s left of me
And if I’m lost it’s just because I’ve always chased a life I knew could never be
I’ll see you in another life, maybe then we’ll see things clear

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