Jingle Bells Friday – all is quiet, is it the lull before the storm?

Photo: J. Aird

As promised we’re taking a more holistic approach to the season this week, digging into our folkier offerings.  There may be wooden music ahead.  It’s a softness that sometimes hides darker thoughts, a bit like the season itself – those clear skies reveal fine star scapes and gleaming silver moonlight, but the downside is a hard frost and the impending threat of snowfall.  And snow is lovely, of course, but we fully understand that for many people the approach of sub-zero temperatures is really unwelcome this year.  And this is the point where we might suggest getting as snugly as possible and uncorking the brandy (purely medicinal and for warmth), but just as welcome would be a spicy Christmas tea (the cup that cheers but does not intoxicate).  Maybe with just the slightest drop of honey.  Some favour the hottest of chocolates – that’s fine, we’re embracing diversity here at Americana UK.  So drink – or not – as you please and how you please, whilst you enjoy this week’s festive inspired offerings.

Fitting every one of those hinted at inspirations is Peterborough raised, North-East dwelling singer Ren Lawton who’s ‘Cold Afternoon‘  delicately dreams of a perfect Christmas – snow outside and congenial company inside, a table laden with food and wine that’s overflowing.  It does finally reflect on the passing of time though just to keep you grounded.

The Vagaband look at the same scene with a less cheerful eye, finding that the season can bring a downbeat mood as well as an upbeat one (hey, this is Americana, happiness wasn’t going to last all the way to the end of this feature) with the thoughts “despite good intentions lately I find I’m lacking the spirit that comes with these times” and the “folks in the street singing peace on Earth” just inspire the though “Peace of mind would do.”  That bottle is going down a bit quickly too, just saying…

Sara Noelle brings a bit more hope on her song ‘I’ll Sleep ‘Til Christmas‘, which contrasts cosy scenes with swirling snowlike musical motifs for the perfect theme for that impromptu Duvet Day.  It’s Noelle’s latest annual holiday original, following ‘Like Snow (Slowly Falling)‘ and ‘Christmas at Sea,‘ all produced by Dan Duszynski.

Another Christmas tradition is the heartbreak / let’s not break up ballad, and we love to follow traditions.  Rosie Thomas‘ ‘We Should Be Together‘ is a piece of folk-electronica that explores the theme through the metaphor of a handknitted jumper.  Obviously that much effort should be rewarded, and guest vocalist Sufjan Stevens clearly agrees.  Rosie says of the song “Christmas can be a bittersweet time, and the world can feel hopeless and lonely fairly often, but there’s some kind of magic around Christmas that brings hope and togetherness, or at least that possibility, which I guess is hope. Though this story is framed within a relationship, the larger themes and longings are more universal.  We all need hope, and we need each other.”

And this is all very well, of course, but you may be asking yourselves “what’s happened to the wooden music?” and “when will we get a gorgous instrumental interlude?“.  Well, right here and right now with The OK Factor‘s ‘Heralds‘ which sees the cello and fiddle (sorry – violin) onslaught that is The OK Factor make a mighty mash-up of the traditional (and thus by folk’s favourite songwriter Anon) ‘Ding Dong Merrily the Bells‘ and Mendelssohn’s ever popular ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing.’ The tune is taken from The OK Factor’s album ‘OKXmas‘ which we still feel is the minimum we should all be aiming for.

And finally for this week we move back towards a more fully Americana feeling with this wonderful new release from Teni Rane, ‘Tennessee Snow‘ which has a fleeting existence that Teni Rane hopes her love will not emulate.  It’s the third of Rane’s holiday themed releases, so feel free to check out ‘Cozy Inside’ and ‘Rosemary & Evergreen.’

Next week – well, maybe more of this mellow-ish Americana.  It’s all up for grabs though as we seem to have…yes…yes..it has been confirmed…way too many songs this year.  We’ll do our best to feature as many of them as we can in the two – yes folks just two more Fridays to go – remaining Jingle Bells Fridays.


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About Jonathan Aird 2182 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?

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