Some people wait all year to hear Christmas songs covered by their favorite pop acts. I have to admit I’ve never totally understood what that is. I wonder if maybe the relentless cheer of holiday music rouses a hopefulness they feel in their bones all year round.
All my favorite holiday songs are minor key affairs. “Carol Of The Bells”, “Greensleeves”, “We Three Kings”. That kind of thing. I remain skeptical of contemporary Christmas covers unless they hint at a cynicism appropriate to the times.
Sister Winter (originally by Sufjan Stevens) is, to me, the perfect song for the modern holiday. Heartbreak, introspection, and the guilt of a deep and unearned sadness all make memorable appearances. But despite – or perhaps because of – the song’s gray fixations, its final moments are brilliantly exuberant.
It’s the kind of bittersweet temperance that Sufjan is known for, and Joseph, the Portland trio of sisters that gave us the lovely I’m Alone, No You’re Not earlier this year, follow the recipe to a tee, adding a little spice all their own along the way.
Joseph’s rendition of Sister Winter appears on Amazon Music’s “Indie For The Holidays” playlist. Listen here. Buy Joseph’s debut LP, I’m Alone, No You’re Not, here. Catch them on tour this winter – dates here.