Arden & the Wolves – “Mary Did You Know”

A strong take on the Christmas song “Mary, Did You Know?” — this version from Arden & the Wolves shows a rousing and somewhat brooding mode of production that works well.

“I first had the idea to cover ‘Mary, Did You Know?’ because I wanted to listen to a gothier version of it that didn’t yet seem to exist,” project leader Arden Leigh explains. “I first sang it when I was 17 at my Catholic high school’s annual Christmas festival, accompanied on piano by my music teacher, and I had chosen it even then for its dark, haunting melody. I couldn’t believe that in the years since someone hadn’t made a darkwave version of it, and I felt an eager pull to fill that gap.”

Whereas many takes on this track tend to show a twinkling, optimistic form, it’s refreshing to hear a different mood cast here. The song’s topical theme still resonates, though with a more retrospective and nocturnal vein. Arden’s powerful vocals combine with a brooding backing synth and slight guitars, culminating in an eruption of emotion around 01:32. The track’s emotion is convincing, and the stylistic re-imagining is commendable.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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