Monday, November 13, 2023

New Christmas Music from Alexis Ffrench, Voctive, Jon Pardi, Chris Issak, Maddie and Tae, Forest Blakk, and Lola Kirke


Alexis Ffrench - Christmas Piano with Alexis

Lovely contemplative solo piano takes on two dozen , mostly, holiday standards. Ffrench is described as a "Classical Soul superstar' but this album leans more on the classical/jazz/easy listening side of things, a la George Winston. An excellent album.

Voctive - It Feels Like Christmas

I was all in on the acapella boom of a number of years ago that birthed the monster that is Pentatonix but after awhile I fell off the bandwagon, and out side of classic acts like The King’s Singers and Chanticleer, I don’t have a lot of it in my seasonal listening rotation. Voctive’s new album of Christmas tunes might change that slightly. Its good old fashioned vocal harmonies, nothing genre shattering and sometimes that can be a good thing.

Chris Issak - Everybody Knows It’s Christmas (Deluxe)

One of my faves from last year adds four “new” tracks.

Maddie and Tae - We Need Christmas

This one isn’t Deluxe, but Extended (does that mean we might still get a deluxe! Oh Joy!)I thought it was okay back in 2020 and the new additions are as decent and workmanlike as the rest.

Forest Blakk - Wake Up (It’s Christmas Time)

Solid 4 track mini-album (maxi-single?)

Jon Pardi - Merry Christmas From Jon Pardi

My favorite country Christmas album of the season so far, if only because it actually wants to be a country album. Plus he does a cover of All I Want for Christmas is You that doesn’t make e feel like raming candy canes in my ears.

Lola Kirke - Hard Candy Christmas

Hard Candy Christmas is becoming a tough one to cover, there are already a few really good ones and of course the original is a classic. Kirke does a nice job here but doesn’t really make the song her own. If you don’t already have a handful of go-to covers of HCC you could do worse.

Monday, November 6, 2023

New Christmas Music from Christian Sands, David Foster and Katherine McPhee, Julie Benko & Mykal Kilgore, Tyler Shaw and more...


Christian Sands - Christmas Stories

Excellent jazz Christmas album from pianist Sands. Absolutely going into this year's rotation. 

David Foster & Katherine McPhee - Christmas Songs

Expanded from last years mini-album. Excellent tracks crafted by an expert producer and a remarkable singer.

Julie Benko & Mykal Kilgore -  (I Never Had a ) Christmas with You

Nice soul tinged duet. I liked this one quite a bit.

Tyler Shaw - Christmas All Over Again

Perfectly good cover of Tom Petty’s holiday hit.

Lisa Biales - At Christmas

Solid Blues rock number.

Dami Im - Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Decent jazzy take. Part of the genre I think of as Hallmark Movie opening credit songs.

Jess Moskaluke - Counting Down Christmas

Okay pop/country track.

Justine Blazer -  Joy

Uneven album veering between teenybopper girl pop, and various shades of country. The closer the songs lean towards country the better. There’s only one song here that I  thought was half decent, and judging by the name I would have assumed I’d hate it, and that’s “Kitty Kat Christmas”

The Tenors - Christmas With the Tenors

Dull, generic, elevator music for wine aunts.

Alex Sampson - This Christmas (Feels Like Love)

Forgettable, generic pop.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

New Christmas Music from The Bongos, Phil Wickham, Michael Bolton and Mickey Guyton, Caitlyn Smith, Colton Dixon, A Winter Union and Chloe Flower


Christmas Isn’t Christmas - Michael Bolton + Mickey Guyton

I’m a fan, to some extent of both Bolton and Guyton but this generic bit of fluff, while inoffensive, won’t be finding its way into my rotation this year.

Manger Throne - Phil Wickham

Fairly standard Worship anthem. If you’re into it , you’re into it.

Rock the Christmas Cheer! - The Bongos

Generic tunes from artists who’ve done better work in the past seems to be the theme today. This time it’s generic indie/powerpop from critical darlings of a certain age, The Bongos.

 I wanted this to be so much better.

Snow Day - Caitlyn Smith

Nice gently swinging, holiday romantic number, b/w a solid, mostly,  sparsely acoustic, take on O Holy Night

Worth revisiting.

Home For Christmas - Colton Dixon

So, Colton decided to release a song with a title that will remind people of another song and then covers that more famous version of the similarly titled song. Interesting choice.

The cover’s better than the original and the originals OK, for a modern pop tune. 

There’s also a contemplative cover of Let it Snow.

Minstrels - A Winter Union

Right up my alley, this slice of festive folk sits comfortably alongside holiday tracks from the likes of Blackmore’s Night, Loreena McKennitt, Kate Rusby and Jethro Tull.

River - Chloe Flower

When I heard the first overly familiar piano tinkles my heart sank. Oh, no, I thought, yet another cover of River like almost every other cover of River. Fortunately it opened up into a more expansive Classical Crossover thing. I’m not adding it to any playlists but it’s fine.

Friday, October 20, 2023

New Christmas Music from Johnny Mathis, Cher, Seth MacFarlane, Gavin DeGraw, Blessing Offor, One Republic and more...

It's that time of year again so here's the first of this years round-ups of new Christmassy releases...

Christmas - Cher 

This one was never going to rate high with me, I haven’t really been a fan of Cher’s output  since the early 80’s. Guests include the Cyndi Lauper, Stevie Wonder and Michael BublĂ©.

A Cher Christmas album from 30 to 50 years ago would have been awesome, but this does nothing for me. That said, if you’re a fan you’ll probably love it.

The Greatest Christmas Hits - Pentatonix

If Pentatonix had the restraint to keep their Christmas releases down to one every six or seven years or so, I’d probably feel a lot less disdain for them. 

This release combines 23 of their “Holiday Classics” with 8 more new tunes. Which is which? Don’t know, don’t care. I can take the odd Pentatonix track on the radio or playing in a store while I Christmas shop but I can’t imagine putting myself through 31 straight songs.

As always I’ll add the disclaimer that this is just my personal opinion and if you like this stuff then that’s awesome and I’m honestly happy for you, I'm just not a fan.

Dear Santa - One Republic

Decent pop tune, nothing groundbreaking. Honestly, if I hadn’t known this was from a massively popular and well established group I might have thought it was a better than average Hallmark Movie title track by some relatively unknown performer. There’s also a piano version of the song that’s pretty good.

Not bad and definitely the best thing I’ve heard today.

Like a Child - Blessing Offor

Well that didn’t last long. Sorry One Republic, this three track single from Blessing Offor , especially "Like a Child", has risen to the top of today’s chart. The only blemish is the egregious use of autotune in Little Drummer Boy, it’s time producers let that affectation go. Offor even manages to make a decent job of covering "Wonderful Christmastime”

Everything You Want - Matt Rogers + Muna

Not a Christmas song, just a mediocre pop song that references Christmas.

A Classic Christmas - Gavin DeGraw

Decent collection of a half dozen holiday standards. You won’t want to throw out your old LPs but as neo-crooners go this is pretty good.

Let it Snow - Various Bocellis

Single from forthcoming Deluxe version of last years' family affair. Meh.

We Wish You the Merriest - Seth MacFarlane + Liz Gilles

Brian from Family Guy releases a solid holiday track. Nice arrangement , nice vocals, can’t complain (and I do love to complain!).

Christmas Time is Here - Johnny Mathis

I’ve saved the best for last. An expanded version of the E.P. the legend released last year. Sure he’s not the singer was , umm, 50+ years ago but ⅔ Johnny Mathis is twice as good as the vast majority of releases you’ll listen to this year. Kristin Chenoweth guests on "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

The Job of Joseph - Christmas Newspaper Serial - George W. Cornell (1972)

 The Job of Joseph by George W. Cornell

Five part AP syndicated series published over Christmas week of 1972