Jingle Bells Friday – only twenty four sleeps to go

Photo: J. Aird

Oh no – it’s actually December!  How did that happen?  Well, the same way that it always happens – Christmas and the annual festivities around a week off from Americana UK always seems so far away.  There’s plenty of time to learn the words to all the Yulefest songs, plenty of time to bake the Winterval cake, plenty of time to sift through the offerings for Jingle Bells Friday and then – woosh! There are only four more Fridays to go, and somehow the quite reasonable pile of festive tunes has become a mountainous heap.  There’s nothing for it – we may have to up the weekly song count, and you know what that means?  Yup, more mince pies, more snifters of brandy, more jollity.  We love it.  Although it’s just possible that this week will not be all jollity….the first Christmas (purely accidental!) stabbing awaits….it really does.

We start with someone who really, really…really likes Christmas – of Kate Rusby‘s twenty-two albums a full hand and two thumbs have been Christmas albums.  ‘Glorious‘ is a self-penned song presented here in full colour.  Or color if you prefer.  It’s taken from the most recent release ‘Light Years‘ which is out today (so it’ll be time to head off to the friendly local record store after you’ve finished with this Jingle Bells Friday!).

Of course Christmas isn’t always an untrammelled joy, and Pippa Scott knows that as well as anybody – she explained about why she chose to cover ‘Blue Christmas‘ explaining that “If I’m honest I have never been a big fan of Christmas music. Perhaps I can attribute that to the holiday times I worked in retail (Gap) when I was in my 20s. Listening to the same songs on repeat is a form of torture haha. ‘Blue Christmas’ is different. I love the hammer vibrato in Elvis’ voice as he sings it. Christmas can create a lot of pressure by constantly reminding us of being with loved ones.  For those of us where that’s possible it’s a lovely reminder and time of celebration, but for those of us who aren’t surrounded by loved ones or perhaps have faced loss it can be a very heartbreaking time. The sentiment of Blue Christmas in acknowledging the loss of a loved one and navigating that during the holidays really resonates – That’s why I chose to cover it.”  We couldn’t have put it better, so we didn’t try.

And since we deem to be descending down a path of doom and gloom (don’t worry, we’ll redeem ourselves if not fully later in this edition then on a Friday in the near-future) let’s see what Sophie Gault has to contribute to the debate.  The Nashville artist and guitarist Sophie Gault used to go under the moniker Sophie & the Broken Things and is gearing up to release a new album called ‘Baltic Street Hotel’.   The first single is the arresting and somewhat autobiographical ‘Christmas In The Psych Ward‘ which draws on Gault’s experience with bipolar disorder, and her experiences from time spent under psychiatric care before pursuing her music career.  Don’t skip over this one.

Taking a somewhat more traditional approach, Malin Pettersen brings another slice of Yuletime Nordicana on ‘Santa.‘   It turns out that Malin Petteresen is not looking to forward to the dark days of Winter and the lonely nights of a New Year.  All she wants is for ‘Santa‘ to come through with the one present that’s worth having – a true and eternal love.  It’s maybe not wise to tag that wish with the thought “I know they say that there’s no Santa.”  Yeah – that’s a naughty list offence right there.  If there’s no Santa, Malin, just tell me where all the Grateful Dead CDs come from on Christmas Day?

Australian Imogen Clark is projecting forward in time on her new song ‘Not Christmas Here’ which reflects on how Christmas will be once she has completed her relocation from Australia to the USA.  As she says “This song is me projecting ahead to how I’ll feel on my first Christmas living in America, without my family close by, and without all the trappings of an Australian Christmas – the sweltering heat, seafood dinners and white wine.”  There’s a lot to like about this song, not least its explanation of a Celsius to Farenheit conversion.  Off-hand we can’t think of another Winterval themed song that does this.    Imogen Clark isn’t new to the Christmas song game having released “I Got Dumped For Christmas” in 2022 and “My Last Christmas With You” in 2020.

And so to just one more song for this week – and naturally we’ve bowed to the clamour for it to be a banjo song.  And who better than Mean Mary to bring a slightly off-kilter eye to a Christmas break-up song involving an unexpectedly large ‘Cardboard Box‘ parcel sent by the ex-boyfriend which Mary quite (ok, maybe not quite) reasonably (ok, maybe not quite reasonably) chooses to open through the application of the time honoured gift opening technique of repeated stabbings with a sharp knife.  Honest, your honour, I never imagined he’d mail himself to me…..that’s the story and she’s sticking to it.  Have a great, if somewhat chilly, first weekend of December, and see you all next week.  Same place, approximately the same time.


About Jonathan Aird 2656 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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