Last year, Janet Devlin offered a stunning Christmas EP that shed all kinds of expectations for the holidays and remained genuinely enjoyable despite the oversaturation of the holiday. For 2016, Devlin decided to continue the tradition and release another Christmas EP, but with a twist. Rather than feeling trite or overbearing, however, she takes on a surprising twist to the season with Little Lights that leaves an amazing impression and offers something a little bit different.
The most interesting aspect of Little Lights, however, is that it mostly doesn’t sound like a Christmas track. Merry Christmas Mum & Dad, a touching thank you to her parents for creating the spectacle of Christmas in their home, is as close as it gets, with its twinkling piano melodies conveying most of the mood while the strings do the rest. Elsewhere she plays with sound and mood, adopting dark, ambient synths on Wake Up It’s Christmas and relying heavily on piano for her cover of Merry Xmas Everybody, Ukulele on White Christmas and an army of strings on both; the final two tracks, instead, aim for a folk feel, with the previously released Christmas Kiss adopting a full flavoured Irish folk feel. It covers different, sometimes darker sides of the Christmas season, and conveys its message perfectly with lyrics rather than laying it on thick with holiday-appropriate instrumentation. It’s a refreshing collection, perhaps even more so than last year’s December Daze.
If anything, Little Lights just proves that December Daze wasn’t a lucky break. Janet Devlin has had an uncanny way of twisting the Christmas style to her musical whims two years in a row, each time creating something exciting and a little different to give an alternative spin to the holidays. It’s another little holiday gem for fans to enjoy at this time of year; even if it’s not quite so outwardly festive, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a stellar piece of work.