John Mark Nelson, Tancred & Jenny Owen Youngs “Fireside” (2021)

Self Released

John Mark Nelson & Jenny Owen Youngs are both no strangers to these pixels I call home. They both write thoughtful, introspective seasonal songs, and this year’s collaboration between the two ropes in Jess Abbott (Tancred) to create a Voltron of emotional, gentle, beautiful strumming and plinking. YOU ARE WARNED! Prepare to look INWARD! The lead single “Fireside” is exactly as Jenny describes,” a crisp homage to indoor rumination in December, and keeping warm with loved ones when daylight is brief and winter nights are long.” Nailed it Jenny. Their voices blend beautifully, most especially during the chorus when the song flares like a flame catching that perfect piece of kindling. They also hit that sweet spot at nearly three minutes in length, this song is that perfect blend of short and sweet, as one does not want a cup of hot chocolate to get cold. Delicious!

Bottom Line: Snuggle up next to this song.


John Mark Nelson “The One Time Of Year” (2018)

Buy: Bandcamp (NYOP)

John Mark Nelson is a songwriter and producer working in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and believe it or not, he released this track 2 weeks ago. Thankfully Christmas A Go Go found it and DM’ed it to me… as he must have figured I’d dig it. Now, here we are! “The One Time of Year” highlights what is becoming a common theme this year – as the need for the quite calm of Christmas, highlighting the simple bonds between us, is more needed in this time of tumult than in years past. The production is warm, sparse, and very evocative of Sufjan Stevens’ more contemplative work, such as the original recording (not the one you can buy) of “Christmas in the Room.” In a year of unexpectedly beautiful, hopeful, thoughtful songs, this one fits in quite nicely.

Bottom Line: Another tender song for a brutal year. Keep feeding me this medicine, and I might just get better.