The Best Folky Christmas Songs of 2012

Santa Banjo

Christmas music is folk music. You can’t deny it. So as a result we love Christmas music here at Timber and Steel – both the traditional carols and songs and the wealth of brand new material that is released by our favourite artists every year. 2012 has been somewhat of a bumper year from Christmas songs so rather than bore you with this introduction let’s get right into it shall we?

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sufjan Stevens – “Christmas Unicorn”
Sufjan Stevens took his obsession with all things Christmas to a new level this year realeasing the second part of his Christmas boxset Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Volumes 6-10. “Christmas Unicorn” was the first new track to emerge from the boxset and we kind of like it – despite being strange in only the way a Sufjan Stevens Christmas song can be.

Rufus Wainwright feat. Sharon Van Etten – “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
The Starbuck’s owned label Hear Music this year released the Holiday’s Rule Christmas compilation featuring a number of our favourite artists (The Civil Wars, Calexico, Punch Brothers, The Head & the Heart, Andrew Bird and more) and was produced by The Decemberists’ Chris Funk. Check out this duet between Rufus Wainwright and Sharon Van Etten from the album.

Punch Brothers – “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”
And with a lineup like that we just have to include another track from Holiday’s Rule. Checkout this take on “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” from the Punch Brothers.

Emmy The Great and Tim Wheeler – “Zombie Christmas”
Last year Emmy the Great and her real life/musical partner Tim Wheeler (Ash) produced the wonderful This is Christmas album of original indie-Christmas songs. This year they’ve re-released the album on vinyl and have a brand new video for the festive and violent “Zombie Christmas”.

She & Him – “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
Another indie-folk duo milking last year’s Christmas album (in this case A Very She & Him Christmas), She & Him have this season released a brand new animated video for their track “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. I wonder how many more Christmases they can get out of a single album? Maybe She & Him and Emmy The Great and Tim Wheeler could team up to create the ultimate indie-folk Christmas album?

Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – “Christmas Eve Can Kill You”
Longtime collaborators Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy released a split single featuring two Everly Brothers’ tracks “Christmas Eve Can Kill You” and “Lovey Kravezit”. The former has this lovely video directed by Lara Miranda.

Roland K Smith & The Sinners – “This Could Be The End (Merry Christmas)”
While this track and video were released last year we’re including it in this year’s list because it appeared on Roland K Smith & The Sinners’ 2012 album Breaking Hearts and Saving Souls. That and you can’t ignore a Christmas song with a bracketed title.

Tom Rosenthal – Christmas Quiet
I have to thank Lachy over at And Pluck Your Strings for bringing this sweet indie-folk Christmas song to my attention (also, you need to be reading his blog – seriously). I don’t know much about Tom Rosenthal but I would have to say this is pretty close to my favourite Christmas song of the year.

Gibson Bull and Carmen – “The Holly and the Ivy”
For the last few years I’ve really enjoyed the annual Christmas compilation album from UK blog For Folk’s Sake. Gibson Bull is an artist that For Folk’s Sake have been pushing fairly heavily this year – and when you hear his version of “The Holly and the Ivy” with Carmen from the compilation you’ll see why.

Dropkick Murphys – “The Season’s Upon Us”
For many the Christmas season is just as much about dysfunction as it is about family and coming together. And who better to capture that in song than folk-punks Dropkick Murphys.

Huey and the New Yorkers – “Christmas By The Side Of The Road”
Huey and the New Yorkers may be the new project from Fun Lovin’ Criminals frontman Huey Morgan but don’t be fooled – this isn’t “Scoobie Snacks”. “Christmas By The Side Of The Road” is a wonderful piece of country Christmas goodness and it’s raising money for veterans charity Help For Heroes. To purchase the single head to the officiel Huey and the New Yorkers web site.

Packwood, Jack Carty, Achoo! Bless You, Fanny Lumsden and Rosie Catalano – “Heading Home (It’s Christmas Time)”
Another charity single, this one a little more local, “Heading Home (It’s Christmas Time)” was put together by some of Timber and Steel’s favourite musicians and raises money for Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy. To pick up the track head to the bandcamp page here.

Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo – “Christmas Time Is Here”
Our favourite ex-pat Aussie musician living in the UK, Emily Barker recorded her own version of “Christmas Time Is Here”, originally the 1965 Christmas episode of Charlie Brown. Backing vocals for the track are care of Rumer, Ren Harvieu and Kristina Train.

Friend of all the World – “The Huron Carol”
Canadian’s Friend of all the World have this year released their second Christmas themed EP, cleverly titled Christmas Time – Volume 2. “The Huron Carol” has a real solemn feel to it but I really like it – I would file this along side the likes of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” or “Dives and Lazarus”.

Leftover Cuties – “Winter Wonderland”
Taken from their EP Christmas Time Is Here, Leftover Cuties have infused a heavy dose of New Orleans into their up tempo version of “Winter Wonderland”. If this doesn’t get you up and dancing on Christmas day nothing will!

Terry Emm – “Gently”
There’s something really sweet about UK singer-songwriter Terry Emm. He reminds me a a little of The Staves or The Leisure Society and his Christmas track, “Gently”, is just beautiful.

Karine Polwart – “Merry Xmas Everybody”
Scottish folk singer Karine Polwart may not have featured too heavily on Timber and Steel this year but 2012 has been absolutely blinding year, following the release of her album Traces, that’s culminated in nominations in the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for Album of the Year, Folk Singer of the Year and Best Original Song. To celebrate the year Polwart has released a folky version of Slade’s infamous tune “Merry Xmas Everybody”.

Grant Arthur – “Santa Went Down To Georgia”
Choosing just one track from Grant Arthur’s folky Christmas album A Very Grant Arthur Christmas proved tricky but we went with “Santa Went Down To Georgia” due to its obvious connection to the classic “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”. Enjoy!

Feldspar – “In the Bleak Midwinter”
We had to finish up with one more track from For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas 2012, this time from London five-piece Feldspar and their track “In the Bleak Midwinter”.

4 Comments

  1. December 24, 2012 at 22:36

    thanx for this list, there are so many songs on here I couldn’t remember.

  2. boyhowdy said,

    December 25, 2012 at 01:15

    GREAT mix this year – The Karine Polwart, especially, was a wonderful stocking-stuffer surprise! Thanks much…and Merry Christmas!

  3. boyhowdy said,

    December 25, 2012 at 01:17

    GREAT mix this year…the Karine Polwart, especially, was a delightful surprise. Merry Xmas!

  4. December 28, 2012 at 16:28

    […] “Christmas music is folk music. You can’t deny it. So as a result we love Christmas music here at Timber and Steel – both the traditional carols and songs and the wealth of brand new material that is released by our favourite artists every year” – we list our favourite folky Christmas songs of 2012 here […]


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