I am incredibly picky when it comes to Christmas music. I’m averse to sap and schmaltz in general, so that lends itself to a general skepticism of all things Christmas-related, not just music. But when good Christmas things come around, I enjoy them as much (if not more than) everyone else. Charlie Brown Christmas, Sufjan’s Christmas EPs, and most recently Aaron Hale‘s HARK! EP are in heavy rotation around here.
It’s with subdued glee that I type this announcement: the almost-too-honest-and-realistic folk singer William Fitzsimmons has released a Christmas song. It’s not your typical Noel verse, in that it doesn’t have all the musical giveaways that scream THIS IS A CHRISTMAS SONG, SUCKER!!! But it is about Christmas (in its own depressing way), and it’s (as always) remarkably honest. Those of you with a general disdain for the holidays would do well to give a listen to William Fitzsimmons’ “Covered in Snow”; I think you’d enjoy it. What’s even better is that it’s paired with a gorgeous, pensive video shot (for no apparent reason) in Belgium. Merry Christmas.
The talented Mr. Jacob Furr sent me a message the other day encouraging me to check out Aaron Hale. Mr. Hale had released a little Christmas EP, and it was going for the low, low price of free over at his website. Being a fan of Christmas, free, and things Jacob Furr recommends, I immediately went. I was excited to hear the calm, folk sensibilities of Aaron Hale come through my speakers minutes later.
Aaron Hale’s Hark! The Christmas EP features one original [“Good News! (For Everyone!).”] and two standards (“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and “The First Noel”), all played on an acoustic guitar and accompanied by a plaintive voice. Hale’s voice is simple, unadorned and beautiful. His acoustic guitar playing is the same. Even when other instruments join the party, even when a choir joins the mix (!), it sounds intimate and humble. The highlight is “The First Noel,” which is sounds simply gorgeous in the stark version that Hale plays. The humming at the end of the song really captures the unashamed dignity of this release.
The original “Good News! (For Everyone).” is excellent as well; instead of trying to write an epic Christmas song that will end up in the Great American Songbook, Hale wrote a great folk song that has Christmas words. It’s catchy, its chorus is “Glory to God in the Highest!”, and there are sleigh bells. What else could you ask for? It’s going on my Christmas music list, along with the other two songs on this EP. You should definitely check out this little EP if you like folk, Christmas, or Christmas songs.