Music Review: Damien Higgins – Late One Night (A Christmas Tale)

Belfast based singer/ songwriter Damian Higgins of rock band Tempest Fugitives recently released his Christmas single ‘Late One Night (A Christmas Tale)’. The track is a Christmas rock ballad full of gruff festive cheer.

The track begins with a reverb-laden guitar that is joined by Higgins’ vocals soon after, it’s a slow intro that teases the grand scale of the track while establishing the stars that’d be at the forefront of the instrumentation: Higgins and his guitar.

Post-intro we’re greeted with sleigh bells being shaken that are met with the hi-hat and then into the main beat of the track. The drums are steady throughout, keeping roughly the same beat. There’s some slight variation in the choruses where a hard accent on the snare is mixed in that helps pump the track with energy. In classic rock fashion there are fills throughout the track, keeping things fresh.

At the forefront of the mix is the distorted and joyous ascending guitar riff that plays through most of the song. The second verse replaces this riff with a more improvisational clean guitar that plays a mix of chords and single notes. Around the 4 minute mark, the lead guitar enters playing a rapid tremolo line that kicks off a minute and a half solo that gives serious Mike McCready of Pearl Jam vibes. It’s a fun solo that has good use of sustains with more intricate guitar work thrown in that keeps interest.

The bass is in the far background of the mix, laying down the bottom line. You can still hear the active work being done though with constant fills and busy riffs playing all through the track.

There’s additional instrumentation from piano octaves bouncing in the choruses while the third verse adds piano chords to the song. Xylophones meet the choir of singers with descending notes that add a more delicate texture to the track and helps fill out the Christmas sound.

Vocally, the delivery is passionate and clear inspiration can be seen from Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder in the gruff and raspy voice Higgins’ sings with. Particular Vedderness can be gleaned from the howls that end the chorus, a classic technique used in a multitude of Pearl Jam tracks. The vocals are supported with a choir comprised of Higgins’ family, a cute touch that once again adds to the warm Christmas glow the track has.

Overall, ‘Late One Night (A Christmas Tale)’ is an epic Christmas ballad with many layers in the instrumentation that all come together to make an explosive track full of Christmas cheer.

“Have a very merry Christmastime” indeed.