Writing as someone who would willingly take an axe to any Christmas tree hoisted aloft in November, it’s a measure of the quality of the material here that I Iisten to Heather Findlay’s new seasonal release and am filled with images of winter overtaking autumn, trees losing their leaves as a chill fills the air, rather than bellowing ‘Humbug’!
But then the key word here is ‘seasonal’, for The Jethro Tull Christmas Album this is not, even if Findlay happily wields her trusty flute! Despite prog’s long standing and largely excellent connection with Christmas tunes, most of these songs dwell in a snow-decked woodland, not around a Christmas tree. Each of the nine songs are captivating and expertly deployed, highlighting Findlay’s affection for folkier themes. The title track and Bitterness Burnt glow like a warm fire, and covers of Fotheringay’s Winter Winds and Mostly Autumn’s The Eyes Of The Forest add to the appeal. Best however, is the stunning reworking of the latter’s Shrinking Violet, that captures both the fragility and power of Findlay’s talent in one eight and a half minute swoop, making this the perfect accompaniment for the upcoming Yuletide season.