Whether you enjoy Fox Glove’s brief three-song holiday EP will be entirely predicated both on your pre-existing feelings about Christmas songs — if you’re not a fan, there’s little point in exploring further — and whether you prefer your Christmas tunes to lean jolly or tragic.
Those who find comfort in the camp value and girl-group frenzy of A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector (Philles Records) are unlikely to find much holiday cheer in these sweepingly romantic and downtempo holiday tunes.
However, if you enjoy the holidays for their requisite emotional baggage and sense of unspecified melancholy, Dead of Winter will make for a sufficiently melodramatic soundtrack.
The EP is built entirely around piano, lush strings and rich vocal harmonies.
The swelling dirge of the title track and two traditional covers — Robert Allen and Al Stillman’s “Home for the Holidays” and the traditional “Auld Lang Syne” — are beautifully sung if not necessarily imaginative, leaning heavily into the saccharine grandeur of a quiet Christmas night.
The title track — and the only original song on the EP — is hard to imagine playing at any sort of family get-together. Instead, the song seems made for those spending the holidays alone in a basement suite or perhaps caught in the airport on Christmas Eve.
The two covers, “Home for the Holidays” in particular, would seem at odds with this sort of sweepingly romantic ballad. However, Fox Glove makes the ultimately smart decision to reduce each song to a smoulder, lending the EP a sense of cohesion.
Had Dead of Winter been even one song longer, this slow-and-steady approach would have likely dragged unpleasantly. However, as is, it manages to cast a frosty, contemplative spell.
It’s not much fun, but it’s cleanly arranged and appropriately brief — a satisfactory soundtrack for those who need a quiet walk through the snow before rejoining the festivities.