It’s a holiday miracle…
Julia Blair and Amos Pitsch are releasing a two-track EP called Christmas Under The Old Elm Tree to warm us up this season. With the two songs (recorded and produced at Honeytone Studios in Neenah, WI), they are dropping two music videos to accompany them, both produced by Finn Bjornerud. Blair & Pitsch (known for their work in bands Dusk & Tenement) are joined by musicians Spencer Tweedy (drums, sleigh bells, vocals), Ridley Tankersley (bass, sleigh bells, vocals), Adriel Denae (vocals), Jeff Patlingrao (guitar, vocals), Marty Bruegemann (engineer, organ, guitar, vocals) & Patrick Boland (engineer).
The songs are two sides of a coin. Blair’s “Merry Christmas (To The Ones Who Are Lonely)”, a simple ballad in a lush, hi-fi setting, addresses the less-than-festive side of the holidays. It’s a tipping of the hat to the people who have trouble with this time of year. You find the most heartfelt declaration of this in the bridge, where a big group of people sing, “We love a good day and we love when we’re okay. You try to make it seem that way. Well, Merry Christmas my friend”. The melancholic sentiment is paired with the warm tone of the Fender Rhodes, thoughtful performances, and some holiday sounds. It’s honestly an instant classic. The video is one impressively unedited, continuous shot. It likens to the material from the way in which Blair is lit in the beginning, to the group of carolers singing the bridge to her, to the end when she is left alone, hanging a single ornament on a tree.
In Pitsch’s “Piece of the Season”, he takes a step back from the sentiment Blair explores. In this song, the season is a collection of moments, feelings, strangers and traditions. Some are lonely and difficult, some special and cheerful, but they all make up this time of year. The production is simple, piano-forward, and effective. Its clever arrangement is reminiscent of the Christmas standards of the mid to late 20th Century; where instrumentation is sparse, but a few well-executed parts fill all the right spaces and catch all the right textures. It works well with the powerful vocal performance from Pitsch. It’s a real catchy song, and when the bridge pops, it’s impossible to listen without tapping your feet along to it. Bjornerud took a lighter approach to the video in this song, which is a welcome departure from the first song. There’s a sincere vibe that comes to life at the end of the movie when we see a gingerbread house destroyed by the cat, and a classic family meal devolve to a spirited food fight.
Find their music in the videos linked, your favorite streaming service, or on bandcamp: https://honeytone.bandcamp.com/album/christmas-under-the-old-elm-tree