Zara Larsson’s talent makes new holiday EP shine

Every year, when December and the holiday season roll around, many artists grasp the opportunity to release their own festive music. This year, we’ve come across several, with Sabrina Carpenter’s inspired “Fruitcake” and Alanis Morissette’s “Last Christmas.” Now, last Friday, Swedish singer Zara Larsson released a holiday EP “Honor the Light.” This EP consisted of six songs, with one song having both an English and a Swedish version.

The EP begins with Larsson’s “Memory Lane,” a track where she takes time to reflect on her past decisions, and the joys and pains that came with them. Her voice is powerful with a lingering echo that pairs perfectly with the idea of remembering bad choices. However, despite the melancholy tone, she assures that she is moving forward and gives herself the advice, “push myself, but hold my hand.” 

While this song itself was pretty good when it came to emotional content and general relatability, the sound was somewhat basic and I personally wasn’t sure why it was selected to start this EP, given that the rest of the songs are clearly holiday songs. When listening to it, I found myself remarking how it sounded a lot like “Invisible” from the movie “Klaus” and then…I realized it was because she sings that song too, which is a testament to her sound being a little too on the nose. 

Up next was “Winter Song,” a personal December favorite. I love listening to Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson as they perfectly harmonize to the sounds of a gentle piano and guitar, which is why I was so intrigued to see Larsson covered it. The first difference that gave me goosebumps was how ghostly her version of it comes off, with her echoing voice and ethereal humming in the background. It felt as though an angel or some other powerful being was singing to me, giving the warm blanket feeling of this song some more comfort. 

Following was the classic “Silent Night.” There are so many versions of this song everywhere, all the time, so I thought it would be insanely different. However, it just didn’t hit the mark. Don’t get me wrong, her voice was beautiful and the harmonized humming in the background was superb, but it was the same old “Silent Night,” if you get what I mean. There wasn’t anything about her version that stuck out.

The EP then takes a turn for lesser known songs with “Light a Candle.” For those who don’t know this song, it is a Swedish holiday song originally performed by Triad, a Swedish rock band. This translation flows smoothly with an interesting techno synth at the beginning and Larsson’s powerful vocals. The part that stuck out to me most was near the end when she seems to speak directly to the listener, singing, “Oh I wish you the best / Please take care of yourself.” It felt out of place with the rest of the song, but not in a bad way. This allowed it to be listened to with extra care. 

Then, Larsson sings the song in the traditional Swedish where it is even more beautiful. I always appreciate hearing songs or poems in their original languages, even if I can’t understand what it means – it has a special flow to it that gets lost in translation.

Finally, the EP ends with “Sankta Lucia,” a song about the traditional celebration of Saint Lucy on Dec. 13. This special Scandinavian festival marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Girls and boys dress up in white with the girls wearing wreaths on their heads and boys wearing pointed hats adorned with stars as they sing traditional songs. 

The song starts with a grand orchestral beginning and continues into a dramatic synth with an echoing harmony. However, none of it compares to Larsson’s soulful voice. Her voice is powerful through the entire EP, but this song is where it is most touching and reaches the heart. 

The beginning of the EP was a bit shaky between basic sound and redundant song choices, but Larsson makes up for it with sheer talent. Either way, I added these songs to my holiday playlist for season listening. In the end, she captures the spirit of the season and with that, I bid you happy holidays and a peaceful winter break. 


3/5 stars


Featured photo courtesy of @zaralarsson, Instagram