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“Blue November” by Cuchulain and Shawn Barry: A Warm, Collaborative Spirit

CK

Before we talk about “Blue November”, we should talk about the circumstances of FEAT.  Created in the midst of the 2020 pandemic, Cuchulain Kelly sat down to create the music and lyrics for each song on the album, and would ship out the demos to each artist featuring on the track. The entire album has this grassroots folk feel: musicians composing in their home studios, using what they have on hand. It leads to a kind of music that feels close even in an isolated time. 

From this project, “Blue November” is a slow, sonorous piece. Featuring Shawn Barry, the song opens with a gentle piano before strings glide over the opening melody. The vocals are belted in a smoky-cool baritone. Riding from the first verse leads to this wonderful rise that cuts out just as our next chorus rolls in. The entire song is draped in this perfect winter mood: cold and bittersweet. However, there’s still this flicker of warmth that comes from the vocals, not unlike the warm licks of a fireplace. The strings reinforce this, playing in the same space as other Christmas and holiday songs. From the speaker reminiscing about a love lost around this november, to the familiar feeling of halloween nights, the song is dripping with soul and a desire to transport the audience to this snapshot of a lonely winter’s night. The third chorus builds on itself, strings overlaid on top of resonant piano chords that build to this full emotional moment, resolving with a quiet verse from the resigned singer. “I think of you / And all we used to do / Now that it’s blue November.”

“Blue November” is the kind of bitter, emotional, folk that pulls on specific musical stylings of holiday music to help build up its wintertime mood. The piano sounds like it could be from a cozy Christmas movie. The vocalist is pulled from a serenade for a montage of old photographs. The guitar has a warmth to it, too, like a busker performing his heart out near a tram station in November. It’s a wonderful, impressive, and lovely folk piece, composed in a lonely and hard time to be a musician.

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