My first Frontier Sounds Christmas Single is this delicate and subtle reworking of Christina Rosetti`s Christmas carol of sorts, called In The Bleak Mid Winter. As the tittle might suggest, Rosetti was adept at appreciating the sadder things in life, a nervous breakdown at fourteen, three cancelled wedding engagements and a life lived with a father ravished by depression. So yes, Christmas can be a sad time too and Fairewell`s rework is like an audio version of the ubiquitous East Enders Christmas episode, where Dot Cotton spends it alone with no central heating and someone, if not everyone, beats up Ian Beal.
What would Christmas be without a duet? Empty, that’s what. Now normally these can be a pretty shabby affair, like your dad`s budget Lidle mulled wine or sickly, like a mug of egg nog spoilt by some super sweet Baileys. This track works because Mike Doughty and Roseanne Cash`s voices aren’t super polished, rather they have a rustic, something-I-can-relate-to sound to them. Also, it`s a song about either two things. 1) A couple not knowing what else they can give to the relationship in order to make it work or 2) A couple not knowing what to get each other for Christmas. I hope it`s the latter because I know that pain and as much as I like Christmas, the commercial aspect brings me down. I like to think that someone has had the balls to sing about it.
Next up we have Laurie Cameron`s version of Christmas Baby Please Come Home. I think her voice might normally annoy me if this song just wasn`t so beautifully depressing, even when the kick drums booms in to try and give it more life, it`s reluctant, there are even some faint half-hearted sleigh bell sounds in the background like you got Eoor in to do the percussion. I love it for that.
This is the happiest song about Christmas after a nuclear apocalypse I have ever heard, which probably isn`t hard considering that this is the first song about Christmas after a nuclear apocalypse I have ever heard. In some ways though, I guess you would have no choice post fallout but to get on with it and try and have a nice time. So what, most of your family are dead and there is nothing but bleak nuclear winters and overcast skies to look forward to, it`s happened, now time to re-build society from the ground up. And as the title of Gruff Rhys`s Atheist Christmas EP suggests, on the plus side you would be able to re-build that society without the evil of religion, no more sitting at rubbish nativity’s and signing twee hyms, no more songs of praise Christmas specials or ruddy carol singers, just more family, drinking and presents.
Because it`s good.