The third of Lullatone‘s seasonal-themed EPs is their best yet. At 25 minutes, it’s also their longest, edging up to the length of an album. Perhaps this is due to the introspective nature of the season; one has fewer distractions, and more time to think. while winter whispers is also more sedate than its predecessors, which is not to say that it lacks fun; quite the contrary. This is music for “warming your hands on coffee mugs” and “watching your breath come out like little clouds”, and titles include “shaken like a snow globe” and “ode to eaten snowflakes”.
In both tone and title, a connection is made to Little Songs About Raindrops (2004), especially its highlight “Wake Up Wake Up”. while winter whispers opens with the lovely “a little song about snowdrops”, awash in bell tones and a sense of peace. This is the Lullatone many people recall from the days of lullabies. Apparently each parent is responsible for putting one child to bed today; as the band has grown, so has the family. But the EP also connects with Lullatone’s modern trend of noticing the little treasures in life, which surfaced in a big way on Soundtracks to Everyday Adventures (2011). When the music and the idea are connected, one learns everything one needs to know from the title alone. It takes almost as long to read the title of “prelude for a single snowflake under a streetlight, falling like a star” as it does to hear it (1:01), but the idea stays in the mind much longer. Children cherish little wonders such as these, and once we are parents, we want to capture as many as possible. On a wider scale, life is comprised of such moments, but if we don’t notice them, our perspective can grow skewed; we can start to lose the world’s beauty.
“all the optimism of early January” tells us that we don’t have to wait. Counting blessings can start then, or on the first day of Lent, or today. And Lullatone’s music is nothing if not optimistic. “all the optimism of early January” is a burst of energy, representing the moment in which we stop watching the snow and venture outside to play in it. Suddenly we’re no longer trapped in our houses. Just because the roads are closed doesn’t mean we can’t have fun! There are snowmen to be built, snow angels to create, snowball fights to enjoy. Strings and percussion join the fray; the instruments are dancing in the drifts!
A good winter day ends when one has lived it to its fullest, stealing every possible moment, “falling asleep with a book on your chest”. The book I recommend for Nina and Niko is Lizi Boyd’s Inside Outside; Shawn and Yoshimi, you’ll like it too! This final track lends itself well to soft pillows, newly-washed blankets and well-worn pajamas. The last sound is that of a needle in a groove, reminiscent of “An Old Record on its Player” (Songs that Spin in Circles, 2009). Sleep well, dear children, and dream of spring! (Richard Allen)