One of the most appealing aspects of Americana music is the specific, often editorialized depiction of life’s events within the lyrics — and the subject matter rivals Norwegian Black Metal for death and murder references.
So perhaps in some way it makes complete sense that a Swedish chanteuse uses that genre to create what may be the darkest Christmas album ever.
Swedish singer/songwriter Sofia Talvik’s “When Winter Comes” has been gestating for the last decade. Every year she has released a Christmas single for various charities as well as a treat for fans.
“This year I’ve re-imagined, re-recorded, re-mixed and remastered these songs to make them come together as an album,” Talvik said. “This album is unique, not just because 13 of the 14 songs are original but because the songs focus on the darker side of Christmas, something you don’t hear that often in Christmas music.”
A truer statement has never been made. This collection of songs covers just about everything that makes the holidays severely depressing for so many.
Not being able to make it home for the holidays, passing of time, regret, war, loss, homelessness, depression and, yes, even murder are all equally dealt with on “When Winter Comes.”
And murder is depicted in what is one of the most magical tracks on the album. Simply titled, “Christmas,” it is the darkest among the dark. You’ll never think of “snow covering tracks” the same way again.
All of this doesn’t mean that Talvik is not equipped with a fully functioning sense of humor. The song “When It Rains on Christmas Day” explains personal failure and regret over a minimal piano accompaniment, lulling the listener into a melancholy before it breaks into a church choir of hallelujahs. Audio whiplash, baby!
Sofia Talvik’s “When Winter Comes” has got something that virtually no other Christmas album can claim: It doesn’t sound at all like Christmas and can literally be played any time of the year. That in and of itself places it on a very short list of “Best Christmas Albums Ever!”
A retired educator, Johnny Vinyl spends his days with Lucifer, an 8-year-old German shepherd, reading and riding the vibe. His column, Ride the Vibe, focuses on entertainment. Contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org