Review: Snow Patrol crowdsource a great new pandemic EP

This cover mage released by Republic Records shows “The Fireside Sessions” by Snow Patrol. (Republic Records via AP)

This cover mage released by Republic Records shows “The Fireside Sessions” by Snow Patrol. (Republic Records via AP)

Snow Patrol, “The Fireside Sessions” (Republic Records)

The latest Snow Patrol album is not technically just a Snow Patrol album. The band had some help — from thousands of fans.

The five-track EP, “The Fireside Sessions,” was written and recorded during quarantine — itself a minor technical and artistic miracle — but also included suggestions and input from followers on Instagram. Their names are included in the CD artwork and digital booklet.

Singer and songwriter Gary Lightbody would ask fans for chords, add a melody and then put options to a vote. He even asked for lyric ideas and created an online contest to find the cover art. Lightbody recorded his part of the songs at home, singing into a $150 microphone and using a Post-it note as a pop shield.

The result either says a lot about Snow Patrol or a lot about its fans: “The Fireside Sessions” is pretty brilliant, with warm and artfully produced songs. But that’s not even the best reason to buy it: All proceeds will go to an anti-poverty charity.

There is an earthy, folky quality to the songs, betraying their acoustic origins. You might expect a project with so many voices to come out disjointed, but there is beauty in some of the weirdness. These songs are “bright lights in the time of darkness,” as one song goes.

The ongoing pandemic is never overtly discussed, but the lyrics explore isolation and longing. The tune “Dance With Me” references “silent streets” and “panic wine.”

In the twangy “Light Years,” Lightbody sings: “The sun shines brighter now the skies are empty/And the loudest birdsongs fill us up again.”

The EP comes two years after the five-piece band’s ambitious and glorious full-length album “Wildness.” The new songs — especially the standout, soulful “Reaching Out to You” — show the band remains at its creative peak, not just making fresh music during lockdown but also inviting a community to help make it. And giving all the proceeds away shows pure class.

Everyone involved — and we do mean everyone involved — take a bow.


Mark Kennedy is at