Welcome all to 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
𝙄𝙩'𝙨 𝘾𝙝𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙢𝙖𝙨, 𝘿𝙤𝙣'𝙩 𝘽𝙚 𝙁𝙧𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙙 - 𝙛𝙖́𝙗𝙟𝙖́𝙣𝙞 (𝙎𝙘𝙧𝙪𝙛𝙛𝙮 𝙎𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙨)
Traditionally, Charles is safe...
Christmas comes but once a year,
Spreading love and festive cheer.
This once a year, this merry beer,
This day is really very near.
A time to dwell upon the good,
Mistakes are fixed with reparation.
A tree this year? I think you should.
A nibble betwixt the preparation;
A pie, a humble pie is all,
Its mincemeat rolled into a ball,
Then squished inside a baking tray,
You add the spices all the way,
From China. What I mean to say
In times so perfect and so gay,
As if it is your final day;
A camped-up flourish, like Salt Bae.
But if you'd rather buy your pies,
That's fine, your year’s been full of sighs,
A sign seen clearly in your eyes
This wine will bring you merry highs.
And should you care to come with me,
To smell, to touch, to taste, hear and see,
For all the senses come to be,
At Christmas time, I welcome thee.
And so, Here we are. The lights are twinkling like they’ve never twinkled before (or perhaps much like they twinkled last year, and the year before that). That familiar yet unmistakable scent of the Tannenbaum, as another bauble drops to the floor but doesn’t shatter, because you’ve learnt your lesson about buying glass baubles. What is it about Christmas that is just so special. We are not children anymore. Well, some of you possibly are, but I think we’re all at least teenage. I’m at least teenage. At least…! So now that it isn’t about presents (read last year’s festive piece HERE, about Sabrina Barreto’s Presents), what is there to get excited about? So there’s a tree. So we get a couple of days off work. So we spend a small (or large) fortune on unnecessary things. So we play festive music. So we eat festive food. So WHAT?? Why should this be any more special than a very pleasant afternoon? Well, it IS special. And I think maybe even more so than in the past. You see, things in general throughout the world are changing at an alarming rate. We simply cannot keep up. But we must, in order to stay relevant. In order to survive. Quite absurd, but that’s the way it is. Nothing works the way it used to. Not necessarily all bad, but different. There is constant change. And usually both good and bad. But I am not here to dwell on either. Jesus Christ, it’s Christmas, for God’s sake. As it were. So. What is it that makes things special at Christmas, and why is it more meaningful now? It all comes down to tradition.
Tradition used to be part of life. But we didn’t know it back then. One never used to have to “look up” how to do the most habitual of things. Besides, “looking up” meant dusting off the ancient encyclopaedia. Habitual comes from habit. Unthinking habit. The way we do it, and the way we have always done it. Why, in the past the way you would do things would have probably been the same way your grandfather would have done them. But that is no longer the way. Except at Christmas time. Save for having safe LED lights on the tree rather than the “traditional”, temperamental fire hazards of the past, nothing has changed. We cling to this cosy time for we know it so well. We probably know and understand Christmas more than anything else in the world, for we have had a lifetime of experience. The world is a cold place, these days. I mean, it’s actually warmer than it’s ever been. But its manner is cold, hard and determined. Where is the love there? Christmas and its traditions manage to cling on tightly to that warmth and love that we feel with every passing year. Never has there been such deafening awareness of mental health as in these past few years, as people struggle to stay sane. And yet, Christmas manages so effortlessly to calm our nerves and make us feel safe. Which is why I could never for a moment imagine a Christmas on a palm-lined beach. Christmas is home. Christmas is family. Christmas is everything.
I have mentioned “safe”, “cosy”, “warm” and “love”. This is the Tiny Tim(e) of year that we shelter from the world, safely and cosily, with warmth and love. It’s Christmas. Don’t be frightened, anymore. And so, on that theme, what better time to reveal to you my favourite new Christmas song from the New Artist Spotlight Christmas (and Holiday) playlist! Oh, you didn’t know I curated a Christmas playlist on the NAS? Well, it has been a tradition since, oh, er, a year ago! You see? Sometimes new tradition is not a bad thing. And once again, we are met with a thing of beauty. No, no. Not my face. A song. A song by fábjáni, who calls himself Scruffy Saints, if and when he feels like it. Scruffy Saints is his other project for - you guessed it - other things. Otherwise he goes under the name fábjáni - a suitably Icelandic word, roughly translating as “idiot”. But of course. What else would one expect from a curious Icelandic chap. Oh wait, he’s not Icelandic? Nope, he’s from Devon in England. And on to that thing of beauty. It’s Christmas, Don’t Be Frightened.
I will start by telling you it isn’t short. It comes in at 6 minutes long. Double the length of your average song. But this is not your average song. It is one those songs that is that length because it needs to be that length. Not once does it ever feel tedious or boring, or repetitive. It somehow still manages to be a “song” yet also an entire journey of mood. Think Pink Floyd. Think of the masterful Brian Eno. Where it isn’t about change. It is about staying in the moment for a while, subtly shifting in the way of ‘minimalism’. But this is not minimalism either. This is a song. We have verses, we have choruses. But we have architecture that is confident enough to take its time in being built. Few artists are daring enough to not mind what people say or think. Few artists will not worry that their audience might switch off or change station… But fábjáni is running that risk by making the music he wants to make. He hedges his bets by making great music, however. The right people will come, and they will stay. Who cares about the others…? When the song eventually comes to a close, what do I find myself doing? Pressing play again. And I have been known to listen to it five times in a row. It is moreish in its hypnosis.
The thing that sucked me in from the seventh second, was his voice. It has the purity of Jacob Collier in his softer moments, but is more heartfelt and calming. Which is I'm sure, EXACTLY what he wanted to achieve, given the lyrics. I believe him. I am safe, and all is at peace for this brief moment. The light yet warm piano surrounds and comforts like a blanket. Subtle soft synths give the air of a breathy choir in the aisles. There is pleading in his voice. It is more than comfort. He is willing and urging us to be okay, as if there is a deeper level of care. The way he subtly skips (what I call a shortened roll) his Rs as he sings “through”, really gets me every time. Subtlety is key throughout this piece. Woven through his inspired melody is the most splendid of orchestrations imaginable. Always soft and understated, yet always evolving and building to the tempo of a calm heartbeat. After 5 minutes of slow growth we reach a spectacular glowing climax, before the final minute’s return to simplicity. For everything grand at Christmas, there is simplicity at its heart. There lies its charm. And charm is at the heart of this beautiful song.
With much love, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas indeed. Even if I did eat all the pies.
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