“Chestnuts roasting on the fire top / Children’s signs read ‘Santa stop’ / Familiar scents that we forgot… December daze,” sings Janet Devlin on the opening title track of her new EP, December Daze. Not long ago, the Irish singer/songwriter topped the indie UK charts with her second full-length, Running With Scissors, before making her way into the American market with a US release in February of 2015. After a few visits to the States, and a summer tour to top it off, Janet took inspiration from her first trip to New York City to create her upcoming five-track EP featuring covers of holiday classics and two new originals.
The first track easily sets the tone for the rest of the EP, as Janet’s soothing voice and a crescendo of delicate keys and bells come together to create a warm, relaxing sound. “December Daze” is followed by a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.” Considering it’s about a relationship coming to an end just as the holidays start, the song itself isn’t as joyous as you’d expect on a Christmas EP, but it still allows for Devlin to flaunt the capabilities of her soft voice with a strong high range. The faster-paced, tongue-in-cheek “Happy Holidays” explains how she’s fine with staying inside and celebrating in her own way: by drinking whiskey and listening to family members tell stories. The song contains a cheery sound comprised of shakers, a ukulele, and a glockenspiel—all of which she plays herself. The chorus of “Have yourself a merry, happy, jolly, festive Christmas time” and the spelling out of “Happy holidays” throughout the song will easily get stuck in any listener’s head. Altogether, these factors give this release the “pep” that Christmas music lovers can’t get enough of.
Fittingly, the EP comes to an end with a cover of the very well known “Silent Night.” With no instruments present, listeners have the opportunity to really pay attention to Janet’s dynamic voice and strong vocal projection. Ultimately, this release is sure to turn those who may not love overly happy Christmas music into big fans. If you’ve been anxiously waiting to hear more from Devlin, this should be enough to hold you over until her next full-length, so definitely be sure to give this a listen!
Review by Lindsy Carr