Low – Christmas (1999)

Low – Christmas (1999)

This came out around the time I was getting into Low, which is cool because it has stayed one of my favourite albs/EPs of theirs. I actually noticed “Just Like Christmas” being used in an ad on TV the other day, and I thought: Oh well, it’s only taken people 12 years to wise up to what a great band they are, and what a great song it is. Better late than never, I suppose. This EP is a mix of original and traditional Xmas songs. Low’s music suits the more hallowed tone of the traditional songs. Their renditions of “Silent Night” and “Blue Christmas” are not a big stretch, and they seem to absorb them easily, turning them into signature Low songs. And their “Little Drummer Boy” (which is my favourite carol) is a majestic beam of heavenly sound. Low have made a career of slow, soulful, understated songs delivered with a rare delicate power. They are a seriously underrated band, with an atmosphere and emotion like no other. I’ve seen them twice (one time they even played a song off Christmas) and they are a thing to behold. At the second show we all just sat on the floor and submitted to their special meditative sound. Husband and wife duo, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker have made no secret about their own (Mormon) faith, which always added some holy dimension to their minimal music. It was un-ironic and passionate and restrained. Nothing was overplayed. Everything was underplayed. Everything about them was Low. There were (many) moments of absolute perfection. There was hypnotic ambience. The music felt like it was good for you. It felt like going to church (in fact, one of their live albums One More Reason to Forget was even recorded in one). Which is why they suit Christmas songs so well. And why their song “If You Were Born Today (song for Little Baby Jesus)” is so beautiful, with the lyric: ‘If you were born today/ We’d kill you by age eight/ Never get the chance to say/ Joy to the world/ And peace on earth/ Forgive them for they know not what they do.’ You know they mean it.