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The Halsway Carol / The Winter of Life (Big Stir Single #108​.​5)

by Karla Kane



The winter is a time for nestling in, for reflecting, for facing the dark and cold. This year, though, it’s been a whole lot of darkness and staying in already, hasn’t it?

For our band, The Corner Laughers, releasing a new album (“Temescal Telegraph”) has been a bright spot, although we’ve missed the usual activities that go along with it: Touring, performing, and simply being together.

But winter solstice is also a time to celebrate the return of the sun, of the light. After all, this is the source of most winter holidays the world over. As the end of 2020 nears, Khoi and I decided to make a home recording of one of our favorites, the winter solstice ode “The Halsway Carol,” by Iain Frisk and Nigel Eaton. Musicians across the globe have offered their own versions of the song. This is ours.

Over the summer, I took part in an online folk-singing choir workshop from the English Folk Dance and Song Society, led by the wonderful Hazel Askew, whom I much admire. Since I live in California, I wouldn’t normally be able to partake in events based at London’s Cecil Sharp House, although I’ve long wanted to. Being able to do so from home, via Zoom, was great fun, although it was challenging, too. The time difference meant that singing time came right at midday here, when work and child care duties often called my attention away. And due to the issue of latency, we were not able to actually hear each other aloud. It was a very strange sensation to be “group singing” by one’s self. Simultaneously lonely and connected. One of the songs Hazel taught us was a lovely composition of her own, based on an older set of folk lyrics: “The Winter of Life.” I’ve recorded my “lonely choir of one” version as the melancholy-yet-cozy flipside of the solstice celebration.


released December 15, 2020

“The Halsway Carol” (Music by Nigel Eaton/lyrics by Iain Frisk)
“The Winter of Life” (Music and some lyrics by Hazel Askew/traditional)

Karla Kane - Vocals, ukulele
Khoi Huynh - Guitar, keyboards, bass, backing vocals


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The Corner Laughers Redwood City, California

"Their indie pop is sassy and smart, intelligent and intricate, twee with bite" - The Guardian


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