review by Michael McCarthy

I know that the holiday season is largely behind us as I write this on New Year’s Day 2024, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to post this when Auni first sent us to it because I was in dire need of a new computer, which I now have. However, my new computer is the first Mac I’ve ever owned so I still have much to learn about it, which further delayed my ability to post this.

I’m only a day late when it comes to one of Auni’s beautiful new songs, which is called “New Year’s Eve.” It’s a sweet and sentimental song about celebrating the new year as one is about to usher it in. But it’s really appropriate for New Year’s Day as well. (To that end, we are wishing our readers and Auni a very Happy New Year.). “New Year’s Eve” is one of Auni’s liveliest songs and calls to mind the work of A Fine Frenzy/Alison Sudol and Emily Kinney and all the best female singer/songwriters who favor acoustic sounds.

A pair of songs on the Twinkling Lights EP are great for all winter long, “The Blizzard” and “A Winter’s Wish.” Auni’s pretty voice sounds especially angelic on “The Blizzard,” which very much has the vibe of a lullaby and it’s perfect for mixes you listen to as you drift off to sleep. Of course, that is not to say that the song is boring; it simply means that it’s warm and mellow. “A Winter’s Wish” is also a pretty ballad that would be a nice tune to listen to as you sit in front of the fireplace toasting marshmallows or sipping hot chocolate or both. You could also include it on a bedtime mix but it’s a bit more lively than “The Blizzard.”

“Twinkling Lights (Reimagined)” sounds like it’s destined to provide score for one of those Hallmark or Lifetime Christmas rom-coms and if it was used for that it would probably be the best thing about the movie it’s featured in. I say that partially because it’s so darn beautiful and partially because I’m not a fan of those sort of movies. (I am actually a fan of Christmas movies, just not the cheesy, PG rated ones produced by those networks. But if that’s your thing, I am by no means trying to turn you against them. Just giving you my two cents since it’s my website after all.)

Want to know more about Auni’s precious EP? Read the official press release below:

“Twinkling Lights” EP – Auni – Press Release

Following the viral success of “Twinkling Lights” and “Twinkling Lights (Reimagined)” on Instagram – which have been featured in millions of reels and stories by the likes of Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Garner, Olivia Munn, and America Ferrera, as well as celebrity chefs, HGTV designers, and travel bloggers – Auni is releasing the long-awaited “Twinkling Lights” EP. The 6-song collection introduces 4 new tracks that are bookended by her existing singles, creating a 20-minute journey into a wintry world of joy, wonder, and quiet reflection.

When Auni recorded the original “Twinkling Lights” 9 years ago, it was a demo that was only ever intended for family and friends. Living as an expat in Paris at the time, she recorded the song straight into Garageband on her Macbook’s built-in mic, layering track after track of ethereal vocals to the accompaniment of a toy glockenspiel. “I wanted to capture the warm and fuzzy feeling I got around the holidays without any of the cheesiness that plagues holiday music (though I certainly consume that cheese in copious quantities at times!!). I was happily surprised with how it turned out and decided to distribute it to streaming services a few years later just for fun. Then, in 2021, I started to get random messages about it on social media and suddenly it was popping up in hundreds of thousands of Instagram reels. I have no idea how anyone found it, but it has been a dream come true to see my music paired with these magical, intimate moments in people’s lives.’”

The popularity of “Twinkling Lights” continued well past the holidays and increased exponentially in the fall and winter of 2022. Auni released a reimagined version that turns the dreamy instrumental interlude so beloved by Instagram users into a fantastical orchestral waltz. “I love writing for strings and had so much fun fleshing out a full orchestral arrangement, adding on a twinkly pizzicato addendum as well. In the reimagined version, I really wanted to explore the theme of experiencing the world through a child’s eyes and all that sense of wonder entails.”

This past year, she recorded four new holiday songs to join the original two. All self-produced, the new additions are mixed by Chris Steffen (Damien Rice, Ben Harper) and mastered by Hans DeKline (U2, Pixies, Lisa Loeb), giving the songs new character while retaining the authentic, intimate vibe of “Twinkling Lights.” Auni shares: “I wanted to avoid holiday cliches while also embracing the fun, simplistic romanticism of the season.”

Her whimsical arrangements are varied and full of colorful acoustic textures. “Hey” has the chill vibes of a Hawaiian Christmas serenade, mellow ukulele floating on a bed of bells and whispering snare brushes. “The Blizzard” is a fully acappella number, a hymn to peace and togetherness amidst turbulent times, carried by Auni’s soaring harmonies and emotional vocal modulations. “New Year’s Eve” is pure fun, a confection of acoustic guitar, toe-tapping percussion, and spunky background vocals – an ode to special times with those nearest and dearest. “A Winter’s Wish” showcases Auni’s prowess as a string arranger – a quiet, piano-led ballad that swells and recedes with the emotion of the strings.

“Both ‘A Winter’s Wish’ and ‘The Blizzard’ are reflections on my longing for peace, which has always been the Christmas theme I connect with the most — these days more than ever.”



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