Our feature album this week partially acknowledges the indulgent, overly-commercial season that we are currently hurtling uncontrollably towards. Though not designed as a Christmas album, I Am Snow by The Heather Findlay Band is most certainly entrenched in the wintertime. Originally a member of the group Mostly Autumn, this release signals Findlay's first solo studio album.
The album consists of songs themed around the season. They are vocally-focussed with a plethora of accompaniments ranging from the modern to the medieval. Upon listening, it is hard not to draw comparisons with Kate Bush and the gorgeous Winter by Tori Amos but Findlay more than lives up to the billing with an exceptional voice that is haunting but at times holds an enticing warmth. For me, I was reminded of the concept albums of Rick Wakeman (e.g. Country Airs). It is a brave decision for an artist to commit a whole piece of work to one subject matter and explore it completely and, in this instance, the risk has paid off.
It is also tricky to listen to the album without it conjuring up images from other media. My kids all love Frozen. This album feels like Frozen would if you relocated it to the Cotswolds, replaced the ice castle with a crumbling folly fashioned from rustic stone. Replace the love story with one of neverending solitude, sprinkle a little Druidic magic and there you have it. For an album to ooze such spellbinding other-worldliness is an incredible achievement and, for what it is worth, I am in. I'll be the Pevensies to its Narnia. I'll be the Starks to its Winterfell. I'll even be the John Carpenter's The Thing to its Alaskan research station.
Instrumentally diverse and with seamless transitions between bleak and understated and raw and powerful, I Am Snow sounds truly mesmerising. Once again, not a Christmas album, however it did remind me of everything that I love about the festive period. Families gathering and good will rediscovered, darkness falling in the late afternoon, the warmth and generosity of the fireside. It does this by conjuring up magical images of all the things I forget I love about winter. Desolate countrysides washed in white, the cold bitter sting on unsuspecting cheeks, sparkling pavements, misted air and the general stasis of the world. A perfect album to listen to with a blanket wrapped around your shoulders gazing out of the window at the falling snow.
Then again, I might be wrong. I am a Musical Moron, after all...
Lyric Of The Week
“I am snow, as I tumble and roll//
On a silvery wind as my steed”
I Am Snow
A bleak winter's day
Frozen perfectly in song
Nine unique snowflakes
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