‘December Song’ – Joy Williams feat. Birdtalker

Christmas and New Year is a troubled time of year. On the one hand, it can be immensely joyful, fulfilling and happy but on the other it can be sad and lonely, full of the longing and homesickness for people no longer in our lives. Whether those absences are down to choice or fate, it doesn’t really matter; we still want more than the shadows those we were close to have left behind.

“Friend, your heart has been far away from mine/ There’s no one to blame but that wicked, stalwart time/ As the year marches steady to its end/ Oh, my heart is longing to be close to yours again.”

This season also gives rise to the discontent of who we want to be and regret or melancholy of the person we have become. There are scattered moments as the nights draw in and we are left little choice but to retreat inside, to ruminate on who we are and who we used to be, and how those two things got so far away from each other.

“Our memories together are like worlds inside my head/ Places that I go to remember who I am / Worlds untouched by my worries in the dark/ Worlds where time can never pull us apart.”

In the deluge of traditional Christmas tunes that are on repeat in shopping centres, offices and on the radio, the acoustic duo Birdtalker have written the beautifully melancholy and introspective ‘December Song’. The track is arranged as a sparse folk song, composed of three instruments and three voices, with Joy Williams (The Civil Wars) singing lead vocals and harmony with Dani and Zach Green. Simple in sound but deep in story and feeling.

‘December Song’ brings the aforementioned moods together, creating a sonic space in which one can fall apart but also where one can put themselves back together again. Williams’ emotive voice weaves around the music, pulling and drawing the emotions from each word; effortlessly painting a landscape of past experience and future hopes and wishes.

“When the world gets cold/ And the lights get low/ I get that old feeling again / Stay a while and let’s hide inside the glow/ Winter keeps on marching and it’s almost time to go… I’ll be home in December/ Maybe we can remember us.”

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