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FOLK | Mourning Dove

Leave it to dysthymic folk songstress Mourning Dove to make a set of holiday music covers that sound as shut-in as 2020. Silent Night, a collection of four covers of holiday favorites, is everything fans of Mourning Dove could hope for in an EP. The project, performed by Greenville songwriter Lisa Stubbs, is another solemnly played set of tunes given a major boon by Stubbs’ sensitive and capable vocals. Stubbs generally gravitated toward the quieter Christmas hits, playing to her strengths as an artist. Her cover of “Christmas Time is Here” channels the childhood melancholy of the original song, written for A Charlie Brown Christmas. “Silent Night” sounds tailor-made for a folk singer like Stubbs, thanks to her knack for filling empty space with her voice. The guitar playing on the song is a fitting accompaniment, but it would have worked just as well a cappella. The most up-beat of the four songs is a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.” Behind the keyboard, Stubbs plays a bright piano melody and gives her best vocal performance on the EP. Silent Night ends with a lyrically altered cover of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” It’s one of the more hopeful notes to end on after an agonizing year. “Someday soon, we all will be together/ if the fates allow/ until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow/ so have yourself a merry little Christmas now,” she sings. Silent Night can be heard on bandcamp.com. —Heath Ellison

RAP | Juicethedon

Charleston hip-hop artist Donnell Black Jr., aka Juicethedon, cites artists like Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z as influences, and you can hear that on his new EP, Trial + Tribulations. Like Jay-Z and Lamar, he can switch from soul-searching lines to pure confidence. “My style is conscious,” he said. “I like to speak about my life. I’m really putting myself out there, but I’m also trying to get that mainstream sound out there so people will be like, ‘This kid is versatile.’ I can sing, I can rap, I can definitely do the swagger, so if you want to hear that, I got you.” And like Lamar in particular, Juicethedon has a knack for choosing unpredictable, off-kilter beats to accompany his vocals. “I like unusual stuff,” he said. “Something that somebody else wouldn’t use. That’s my favorite part: If it’s a beat that somebody wouldn’t use, I can incorporate a new flow.” But Juicethedon’s greatest influence isn’t someone who sold millions of albums; they’re someone far closer to home. “My father owned a production company in north New Jersey,” he said. “He was probably my biggest influence. He used to rap, produce, everything. He’s gone now, but this was my father’s dream around this age.” —Vincent Harris