While on the lookout for another seasonal disc to complement the grizzled optimism of Bob Dylan’s ‘Christmas In The Heart’ I found this atmospheric offering from Smoke Fairies, originally given a limited release last year and now reissued.
Opening track ‘Christmas Without A Kiss’ sets the tone for the album, as deep bass pedals and distant sharp-edged guitar underpin a world-weary lyric ‘I don’t have the one I love, I want snow I get rain’. This album is clearly no jaunty collection of clichéd sleigh bells and happiness revolving around the big day.
‘Steal Softly Thru Snow’ showcases the duo’s hypnotic harmony vocals with an attractive instrumental break in there too. ‘Give And Receive’ has abstract references to the Christmas story, all floating over an elegant instrumental backdrop. ‘Circles In The Snow’ is a shimmering delight, ‘Bad Good’ is a more disquieting affair, then the title track ‘Wild Winter’ is like a sinister walk in the woods, followed by an acoustic interlude, ‘Snowglobe Blizzard’.
‘So Much Wine’ is a disturbing tale of domestic disharmony, then final song ‘All Up In The Air’ is a distillation of what has been before, the gentle introduction building to an impressive finish.
So ideally sat in front of the fire with mulled wine in hand (or perhaps some ‘Wild Winter’, a 6.8% beer brewed for this release?), slow down, hibernate and listen to this bittersweet album, contemplating the unchanging rhythms of the winter solstice.