Jingle Bells Friday – Snow is falling… somewhere…

Photo: J. Aird

Actually not so far away – there should be snow in Germany this weekend…not such a hotbed of Americana though (unless, of course, you know differently).  Anyway – this week we have another fine selection of songs to get you into the seasonal mood, should you need any help that way.  It doesn’t really happen in a truly planned way but this week we have a touch of darkness, a touch of light, a reflection on fast paced and commercial christmas and an embracing of a slower perhaps more meaningful approach.  And we close out with a traditional song presented in what is rapidly becoming Americana UK’s traditional way.  Sit back, relax, get the eggnog in one hand and the mince pie in the other and you’ll be set for a Jingle Bells Friday.

We’re starting with a lush slice of Nordicana ,with a new Christmas song from The Northern Belle which celebrates the collaborative spirit of the Nordicana scene, as well as the holiday in itself. Featuring Louien and Signe Marie Rustad, this is a classic Christmas ballad, complete with beautiful harmonies and The Northern Belle’s secret weapon, the Hardanger fiddle.  There may be a slightly less than joyful subtext to the song though: “Used to laugh when the snow fell / It reminds me of what could have been / you left to early / You are with God now / what I want for this Christmas is you.”  This may just be the perfect Americana dark and bleak mid-winter festival song.

And whilst we’re talking Nordicana it’s worth mentioning that Darling West have not just recorded a new Winterval song they have gone the whole way and recorded ‘Light‘ an album full of Yule.  And, if you are the kind of person who likes to pick up a couple of new holiday themed albums this time of year (and, frankly, who doesn’t?) then ‘Light‘ with its blend of modern and traditional songs – and that’s traditional Norwegian songs so there’s the added attraction that they are of course in Norwegian – is an album you’re going to want to investigate.  Here’s the title song, which is a new write by Darling West.

Taking a slightly different tack, Maple Mars bring a power-pop sensibility to ‘Christmastime in the City‘ which puts a new spin on a white Christmas theme – as the band ponder the slightly bizarre sight of all the traditional Christmas imagery – snow, reindeer, twinkling lights – when observed in Los Angeles, and then dreams of being somewhere where all the fakery is actually for real.

It’s all getting a bit glitzy, and sometimes we can’t help feeling that something a bit more…oh, cozy, intimate, less flashy…might be a better way to enjoy the season.  And we’re not alone with that thought as Melissa Ruth describes a pretty perfect way to spend the holiday on ‘Low-Key Christmas.’  And, for Melissa at least, it;s not just a dream, as she explains: “Last year was the first time in many years that my husband and I were at home on our small ranch in Western Oregon for the holidays. It was a sweet and peaceful time. After days spent in the woods, evenings by the fire, and a few late-night star-gazing sessions, I wrote this song from a place of quiet reflection on the holiday season.”  Sounds just perfect, in all senses.

Now, we aren’t able to definitively say that every Jingle Bells Friday will close with a banjo – but we’ve heard what you have to say on the subject and we’ll do our very best.  Which is by way of introducing a recording of ‘We Three Kings’ given that Bluegrass treatment by Dunlap & Mabe with the assistance of Valerie Smith on vocals.

About Jonathan Aird 2727 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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