The Best Folky Christmas Songs of 2013

Carol Singers

It’s Christmas Eve which means we have one last tradition to attend to – the annual Timber and Steel list of the best folky Christmas songs of the year. If you’re a constant reader of Timber and Steel you’ll know our love of Christmas music, both traditional and new and as usual there are some amazing gems this year.

We hope you have a safe and merry Christmas wherever you find yourself this year. We look forward to folking with you in the New Year!

Nick Lowe – “I Was Born In Bethlehem”
Punk and new wave legend Nick Lowe has embraced his inner folky singer-songwriter for his Christmas album Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection For All The Family. The album is a mixture of traditional and contemporary Christmas songs with this track, “I Was Born In Bethlehem”, penned by Lowe himself.

Fabian Holland – “Christmas In Jail, A’int That a Pain”
Singer-songwriter Fabian Holland has been joining the Albion Christmas Band (Simon Nicol, Kellie While, Simon Care and Ashley Hutchings) on their UK tour dates celebrating 15 years of Christmas celebrations. Holland has offered up his own Christmas song for the occasion, the bluesy “Christmas In Jail, A’int That a Pain”.

Bella Hardy – “I Would Bring You The Moon”
English folk singer Bella Hardy released her Christmas single “I Would Bring You The Moon” in November, a follow up to last year’s Christmas album Bright Morning Star. The single also comes with two other tracks – “The Christmas Waltz” and “O Holy Night”.

Bellowhead – “Christmas Bells”
Based on the words of an ancient mummers play traditionally performed around the Christmas period, “Christmas Bells” is this year’s offering from Bellowhead complete with home made video. The downloadable single for this track also comes with a version of “Jingle Bells”.

Alessi’s Ark – “Joy To The World”
The first in our picks from the annual For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas compilation, this is a really sweet reimagining of the traditional “Joy To The World” from Alessi’s Ark.

Stornoway – “Gondwanaland”
Another take from For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas Stornoway’s “Gondwanaland” originally appeared on their album I Saw You Blink but gets the Christmas tick of approval due to its many wintery lyrics (they are after all a northern hemisphere band).

Left With Pictures – “The Coldest Night”
For the Left With Pictures contribution to the For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas album, “The Coldest Night”, the band have actually made a really sweet, vintage style music video with scenes of Christmas in Sweden. This track also appears on the Highline Records compilation album Festivus 2.

Laish – “Silentish Night”
The final inclusion from For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas is the Laish track “Silentish Night”, a rewording of the Christmas classic “Silent Night”. This may be a rather bleak look at Christmas but given the scenes in our major cities in the lead up to the big day it hits pretty close to home.

Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker – “We Three Kings”
Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker have had a massive year following the success their album Fire and Fortune, especially in their native UK. As a follow up Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker have quietly released an album of traditional Christmas tracks titled Midwinter, the proceeds of which go to Unicef’s Children of Syria Appeal (you can buy it here). Every song on the album is a gem but we’ve chosen “We Three Kings” as this seems to be getting the most buzz on the blogs.

Land of Leland – “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”
I came across the Land of Leland track “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” thanks to the excellent Grass Clippings blog. Land of Leland is the moniker of Brooklyn based folk singer Justin Keller and the track is from his mini-album Christmas Time.

Gareth Davies-Jones – “Love Came Down”
Gareth Davies-Jones, the Northern Irish folk singer with one of the Welsh-est names I’ve ever heard, released his Christmas album Nine Lessons last year so this one sneaks in just because I’ve only just discovered it. I love Davies-Jones’ accented singing voice on this track – beautiful.

Yetis – “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
Yetis were a real discovery for me this year – I caught them at a Little Features I think and was mesmerised. They didn’t make a lot of my end of year lists because they didn’t release much music this year but I’m really hoping that changes in 2014. I love that they chose “Do You Hear What I Hear?” as a Christmas song to cover this year – so good!

Gaoler’s Daughter – “Cuddling A Cigarette”
London four-piece Gaoler’s Daughter have contributed this slide-guitar filled, indie-folk gem to the charity Christmas album It’s Coming On Christmas.

Paper Aeroplanes – “In The Bleak Midwinter”
Also from the It’s Coming On Christmas compilation, this traditional carol gets a beautiful modern take from Paper Aeroplanes – a band that is a firm favourite of Timber and Steel contributing editor KT Bell.

De Temps Antan – “Dans la mémoire longtemps”
I don’t speak French but this clip from Québécois trad trio De Temps Antan, “Dans la mémoire longtemps” or “In The Long Memory” (thanks Google translate), has a Christmas tree in it so that’s Christmasy enough for me.

Imogen Clark – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
Sydney singer-songwriter Imogen Clark just made the cut this year releasing her jazzy take on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” just days before Christmas eve.

Tom Mitchell – “Fairytale of New York”
A big thank you to blog Cover Lay Down for bringing this version of the classic “Fairytale of New York” to my attention. I can’t think of a better way to cap off this year’s list. Merry Christmas!


  1. December 25, 2013 at 03:21

    […] The Best Folky Christmas Songs of 2013 ( […]

  2. December 27, 2013 at 15:48

    […] We presented our annual list of the best folky Christmas songs of the year from the likes of Yetis, Nick Lowe, Bella Hardy, Bellowhead, Imogen Clark, Alessi’s Ark, Stornoway, Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker, Paper Aeroplanes and more. Read the blog here […]

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