Christmas songs tend to be bastions of forced cheer and endless good tidings. If you’ve heard Josh T. Pearson’s beautiful, slit-your-wrists album Last of the Country Gentlemen, you’d expect him not to really go in for all such holiday niceties. And, on his new Christmas EP, he doesn’t. At all. Instead, he covers five beloved Christmas hymns, transforming them into bleak lamentations that feel holy and profane at the same time.

The full set is only available from Rough Trade, but you can stream and download his seven-minute version of “O Holy Night” below. Like most of his material, it’s just him and an acoustic guitar, his weathered voice wringing every ounce of emotion from the lines. It will stop you cold, but might not be a good fit at your office’s Christmas party (unless you want it to end early).

Josh T. Pearson – O Holy Night

Buy Pearson’s ‘Rough Trade Christmas Bonus’ at Rough Trade.

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