"This Special Time Of Year" by The RisingReview
We are definitely finding ourselves in the festive release period now & if the cover art for the new single from The Rising "This Special Time Of Year", which is released today, does not alert you to the fact that it's topically themed, then the name probably will.
I tend to consider Christmas singles to sit slightly outside the main body of artists' work as they seldom relate directly to other releases (no reason why they should of course), so although it is the technical follow up to "2 AM Call" which came out six weeks ago and presumably fits within the plan the band had for a monthly release during 2020, it is an artefact with its own unique charm within their catalogue. In fact, thematically it is probably more of a follow up to last year's "Christmas Brought You Here" single which as this (re)appears on this release in full & acoustic formats makes "This Special Time Of Year" into an EP.
That said, the inherent qualities of The Rising are still all here present & correct and while "This Special Time Of Year" is about as far from the subject matter of "Shadows on the Wall" as you can get, Chris Logan & Chantelle McAteer have without doubt spent their enforced isolation honing their considerable strengths across what is an ever growing body of work now covering a spectrum from celebration to child abuse.
The band generally seem to like telling stories (most of their songs in 2020 fall into this category to some degree, not least "2 AM Call") and beneath the range of heartbreak, love, loss etc, you get the definite sense that they are not only interested in other people but they like them & have genuine compassion for them.
Chantelle's warm vocalisations are key to this empathy & consequent emotional honesty and her singing makes "This Special Time Of Year" a real celebration of family & friendship without a trace of cynicism nor the world weariness a year like this one might reasonably have been supposed to induce. Coupled with the jaunty upbeat tune & production (however great it is to hear The Rising stretch themselves & tackle darkness in their writing, you can't help but think that their true heart lies in joyful songs: even those which tackle the human miseries which their beloved country music so often details, they tend to end with expressions of hope & optimism).
This song is actually much closer to the pop end of their own spectrum than the country one and at the end of a trying 2020, it offers a welcome antidote to our blues. It is extremely catchy (another trait they've been polishing very successfully) and I have no doubts that it will do well in terms of airplay. What would be just as nice though would be the idea that we shall soon be hearing The Rising and everyone else playing live again. Now that will definitely be a very special time in 2021.