Monday, November 28, 2016

Music Review: I'll Have Another...Christmas Album by Straight No Chaser

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun arrangements of familiar songs
Cons: A couple of the original tracks don’t work as well as they should
The Bottom Line:
Straight No Chaser brings
Brings us more Christmas magic
That’s sure to delight

Glasses Raised for Another Great Christmas Album from Straight No Chaser

Because a video of their comedic take on “The Twelve Days of Christmas” launched Straight No Chaser’s career, they seem to have a love of Christmas music.  I’ll Have Another…Christmas Album is their fourth release for the Christmas season, and fans will absolutely love it.

The disc starts out with a couple of more modern Christmas songs, “All I Want for Christmas is You” and “Mary Did You Know?” before delving into older classics like “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” “Up on the Housetop,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “Winter Wonderland.”  For all these tracks, we get their trademark a cappella harmonies.  Trust me, these songs sound wonderful.

They also work in some original tracks.  Jana Kramer joins the guys for “Feels Like Christmas,” a love song about every day feeling like Christmas when you are in love.  I really enjoy this one, although I’ve got to admit I struggle a bit more with the other one.  “The Greatest Gift of All” is about the fresh joy a new baby brings to the holiday.  Trust me, I get that.  While I am single with no kids, my niece and nephew have added a whole new level of delight to the season.  And yet, somehow this song doesn’t quite capture that for me.

Then there is their cover of Coldplay’s “Christmas Lights,” a song about a breakup (at least I think that’s what is happening here not being super familiar with Coldplay).  It’s a very sad song.  Again, the arrangement is wonderful, but it’s not something I really enjoy listening to at Christmas.

If you are looking for something unique that really works, check out “Joy to the World.”  This is a very different melody to the familiar hymn, and it works very well.  It’s fun and vibrant and a perfect example of the joy we get from Christmas.

When you release this many Christmas CD’s, you start to run out of the best known classics to cover.  Straight No Chaser digs a little deeper and comes up with some true gems.  I’m only familiar with “Sing We Now of Christmas” thanks to Michael W. Smith, so I’m thrilled to get another recording of this song.  “Coventry Carol” is another song that isn’t recorded too often, but I like it because of the dramatic nature of the song.  Their harmonies sound absolutely fantastic on this one.

And in a very fun track, they also cover “Mele Kalikimaka.”  With Randy Stine handling the main vocals, he manages to almost croon as well as Bing Crosby does.  They give it a great tropical feel that is perfect.  It may not replace Bing’s famous version, but it will come close.

Finally comes “To Christmas! (The Drinking Song).”  It looks at the countdown to Christmas from the point of view of your typical guy.  Now, I don’t drink, but I still find this take on things to be a lot of fun.  This is definitely one of their best original comedy songs to date.

With so many familiar songs, this disc feels like Christmas right away, and yet the fresh arrangements and lesser known tracks keep things interesting.  I have a smile on my face as soon as I start listening to it, and it doesn’t leave until I turn it off.

So if you are looking for another Christmas album to add to your collection, I highly recommend I’ll Have Another…Christmas Album.  Straight No Chaser will put you in the holiday spirit with no added help needed.

CD Length: 40:02
1. All I Want for Christmas is You
2. Mary, Did You Know?
3. Feels Like Christmas (Featuring Jana Kramer)
4. Do You Hear What I Hear?
5. Joy to the World
6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
7. Run Run Rudolph
8. The Greatest Gift of All
9. Up on the Housetop
10. Sing We Know of Christmas
11. Mele Kalikimaka
12. Christmas Lights
13. Lully Lullay (Coventry Carol)
14. Winter Wonderland
15. To Christmas! (The Drinking Song)

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