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Playlist: 10 songs to keep you warm this winter

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To keep you warm this winter, we've devised a playlist full of songs that are a like a cup of hot mulled wine for the soul, branching from authentic soul quirky instrumental and dreamy orchestral arrangements to late night romance soundtracks.  

Image Credit: Pixabay

1. Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)   

Nat King Cole is essential in any winter playlist. ‘The Christmas Song’ is the physical embodiment of warmth and protection from the nippy December winds. The 1960s classic is utterly timeless, with a rousing string orchestral arrangement, jazzy piano and Cole’s liquid velvet vocals injected with subtle dashes of jazz and soul. His iconic voice has warmed and will continue to warm generations during the cold winter months.

2. Tom Misch – Isn’t She Lovely

Instrumental tracks have an indescribable calming power; focusing purely on the music itself transports us away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. Tom Misch’s serene cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ is certainly no exception and in comparison to the big and bolshie original, Misch’s cover is understated, but speks for itself. Short but sweet, palm mutes set the scene with clipped strums and a subtle, non-invasive beat, allowing the smooth melody to come through whilst subtle background noise of traffic makes the instrumental glow.

3. Leon Bridges – River

‘River’ makes the most of Leon Bridges' stunning gospel vocals, reinforced by a slow acoustic strum and a shimmering tambourine beat. The track breaks down into soulful acapella vocals and rings with old fashioned, raw blues sounds that the lyrics can hardly contain. Let Leon warm the cockles of your cold, tired heart.

4. George Harrison – Apple Scruffs

A harmonica-driven love-song and an ode to Beatles fans who were known as ‘apple scruffs’. Captivating acoustic strums and guitar distortions fortify the charismatic use of the harmonica, lending ‘Apple Scruffs’ its loveliness and soul-warming sensualities. The song ascends into full-bodied harmonies in the chorus (“Apple scruffs, apple scruffs / How I love you, how I love you”) dipping in and out of lightness and shade. ‘Apple Scruffs’ is easily one of George Harrison’s most underrated tracks and a perfect addition to a cold, winter's evening.

5. Soccer Mommy – I’m On Fire

Another beautiful cover but this time of Bruce Springsteen’s larger-than-life, frisky original ‘I’m On Fire’. Soccer Mommy, aka Sophie Allison, has angelic and quintessentially indie, Sunday-morning vocals that give the song a whole new meaning. Slow-burning, rich, loose electric guitar strums intermingle with each other, radiating a glistening wall of shadowy sound, which is contrasted with Allison’s ethereal voice. In this melancholic framework, the lyrics are given a whole new meaning; Springsteen’s lust is replaced with sentimentality, romantic vulnerability and dependence. Soccer Mommy’s cover has late night romance written all over it; a romantic embrace of the soul.

6. HONNE – Woman

Another song for slow dancing on a cold night. HONNE’s ‘Woman’ is a subtly jazzy slow-groover, infiltrated with a masterful slow beat. The song comes alive in the chorus with room-filling harmonies. Clutterback’s tender, yearning vocals are a warm solace, especially towards the end when he caresses, “And I thought I should tell you / How loved you are”.

7. Bright Eyes – First Day Of My Life

‘First Day Of My Life’ is an endearing acoustic track, with heart-warming lyrics about infatuation: “Yours is the first face that I saw / I think I was blind before I met you”. This song is a hug in music form because the lyrics don’t exude a lot of self-confidence, “I’d rather be working for a pay-check / Than waiting to win the lottery”, sung with nervous conviction. It’s a depiction of imperfection that we can all relate to.

8. Bing Crosby – White Christmas

A seasonal classic initially released in 1941, Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ is one of the most-loved Christmas songs of all time. Dreaming of a ‘White Christmas’ invokes all the warmth, magic and awe of the festive season and Crosby’s time-enduring vocals still have such a crispness to them. We’re transported every time we listen to them, even more so by the dreamy nostalgia that arises from the beautiful, authentic choral-style harmonies.

9. Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Shine

Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s trademark softly-spoken vocals are a beacon of warm-heartedness - elegant, shimmering acoustic backing embody gentility, wrapped up in soothing two-part harmonies. The song’s lyrics are soaked in romantic sentimentality which is irresistibly loveable, “I hope what find what you’re looking for, so your heart is warm for evermore”. Leftwich could thaw the coldest of hearts.  

10. Sting - Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (Symphonicities Version)

The inclusion of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra elevates Sting’s stellar touch, both vocally and lyrically. The combination of the soaring string and wind sections, cascading flute and oboe solos are so enchanting they lend the song a sense of transcendent timelessness and an infinite warmth. The lyrics of ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’ are stunning in themselves; a beautiful depiction of infatuation, “Even though my life before was tragic / Now I know my love for her goes on”. This particular version invigorates the studio-version backing, and Sting’s variation on the vocal rhythms adds even more feeling to a beautiful love song.




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