Christmas is an all-encompassing time of year, a time when even the most every day of actions and routines seem only to be viewed through a festival filter. And so it is only natural that artists and creatives, including musicians, especially musicians, turn their craft to similar viewpoints. Echoglass is no different. But, given their ability to get to the beating heart of social matters, to be able to dig down into the soul of society, relationships and the psyche of everyday people and really get to grips with the stuff of life, A Song About Love at Christmas is no ordinary seasonal sing-along. Even the title feels more academic and underplayed than the heightened fare it gets to rub shoulders with.
It juxtaposes a jaunty jumble of skittering strings with the sort of life observations which might otherwise be found in a Ken Loach script. It’s a tale of love, the meaning of love, the perception of love, the imbalance of love and the fallout of love. It is unashamedly a song about love, but one which deals with gritty realities rather than festive fluff. It also contains one of the best lines that I have heard in a long time… “ but the moonlight’s just light passing through air,” a line as poignant and unromantically matter-of-fact as young Billy Bragg’s observation that it is “wrong to wish on space hardware,” from a song which sits easily by its side in lyrical terms.
And like all good songs, it offers any number of meaning to every prospective listener, lyrical meaning being the responsibility of the receiver more than the broadcaster and a line such as “…wondering if she’s coming home to stay” becoming all the more resonant in the current enforced isolation and state of separation which we find ourselves in.
A Song About Love at Christmas is peak Echoglass, incisor and insightful lyrics driven by a gentle balladic flow, a three and a half minute pop song as a brilliant observation of the fractious nature of love and longing. A story of people trying to understand what love is, what it really is, and the gap between what we think it means and how it really works between two people in the real, hard, difficult, challenging and complicated world.
It’s the most honest, most real love song you will ever hear, it is the exception which proves the rule. There are no candy or ribbons, no slush or sentiment, no theatrical outpourings for the benefit of others, none of the perceived trappings of love instead exploring what love is rather than what it appears to be. If A Song About Love at Christmas wasn’t a song, it would probably work just as well as a psychiatry journal article on what makes relationships tick.
Okay, it’s hardly Mariah Carey and a thousand times better because of it!