Premiere: The Heart Of “Winter Song” (2017)

The Heart Of - Winter Song

Brooklyn Basement Records
Buy:Stream on Spotify (Release Date Sat. Dec. 23)

Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson’s “Winter Song” is slowly becoming a modern classic, as more and more high-profile artists have begun to cover it in recent years. The song has a signature emotional quality that has landed frequent appearance in television and movies as well, further entrenching it in our consciousness. NYC’s The Heart Of is the latest to tackle the song, as he found kinship with the emotional core of the song:

“For lots of people, the winter can be a difficult time to face alone, calling into question whether love is waiting for them at all, hiding in the cold. I identified with those sentiments and felt moved by their manifestations in my own life. Not everyone is rocking around the Christmas tree, and I thought it was nice that there’s a song for those people who aren’t. Of course, the arrangement and performance in the original is really beautiful, so I just tried to do it justice.”

The Heart Of certainly does the song justice, and IMHO, improves upon it. The subtle changes in instrumentation, the addition of banjo as a featured instrument, as well as further developing the percussive possibilities of the song wonderfully fleshes out what is a generally sparse, piano-centric original. These choices highlight the excellent taste level of The Heart Of, and their ability to create a modern, interesting approach to a burgeoning classic bodes well for spring 2018, when we’ll get to check out their debut EP.

Bottom Line: The Heart Of find a subtle, new approach that breathes new possibilities into an increasingly high-profile modern classic.


Rostam “Fairytale of New York” (2017)

Buy: Stream 😦

Rostam (Rostam Batmanglij), the genius behind the production on those early Vampire Weekend records, put out a phenomenal album of his own this year, Half Light. Couple that with him being the main collaborator on the last two Hamilton Leithauser solo records (with equal billing on the last LP, the absolutely stellar I Had a Dream that You Were Mine), and you are pretty much looking at one of my favorite artists of the moment. That said, Rostam does not have a powerful voice, and I feared this song might just need a some more oomph behind it. I was most certainly wrong. The qualities of Rostam’s voice actually bring a new depth to the song. Rostam has a fragility to his delivery that makes this version unique from those I’ve heard before. The orchestration is beautiful, and has some slight variations to the norm, certainly not the re-imagination that was Daniel Woolhouse’s last year. However, there is a lovely part around 2:45 where the guitar lines lead into a what feels the most like a Rostam-like arrangement, which is lovely. Surprising and wonderful, this version just needs the ability to purchase/download/etc to make me one happy camper. (Thanks Larry for the tip!)

Bottom Line: My fears were unfounded – Rostam continues to impress.