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O'Hooley & Tidow O'Hooley & Tidow
Album: Winter Folk
Label: No Masters
Tracks: 10

It's been said that for every Christmas song played before December 1st one of Santa's elves has to drown a baby reindeer. Fortunately Santa himself has signed a clause exempting the reviewing of new seasonal albums, so I can review O'Hooley & Tidow's "Winter Folk" with a clear conscience.

"Winter Folk" is most definitely an album of the season rather than a Christmas album, though that festival does get referenced, but then there are nods at both Pagan and secular events over the course of the twelve songs.

It's a song that draws on traditional songs, mixes them with self-penned songs and then sprinkles the glitter of a cover version or two over the top. It's an album that really does draw on the season and reminds us that whilst there is an element of the time of year that brings us together, it can also be a hard time both inside and out of families. It's also a period that is under transition in nature as the duo's reprise of the politically and emotionally charged "The Last Polar Bear" shows.

This is an album that is darker in nature than many of the festive compilations that will no doubt be rushing into the shops as I type this. Yes there is a place for season to be jolly and uptempo seasonal albums and "Winter Folk" is as warm a good glass of mulled wine in places, but it's also quieter and more reflective in others, contrast "One More Xmas" desperately seeking one more Christmas with the cover of "Fairytale Of New York" desperately wishing it to be the last.

I guess any album with the word folk in the title is always going to be a bit more thoughtful and reflective than a Coca Cola Christmas album and that's never a bad thing. Mid-winter is always's a good time to reflect and boost flagging spirits and there's plenty here to help.

O'Hooley & Tidow have delivered an album that bucks the seasonal trend, whilst still remaining a seasonal album. "Winter Folk" is an album that has the right spirit. It starts with "Fire & Wine" and in many ways that sums up the whole, pretty damn fine.

Neil King