Monday, November 21, 2016

Music Review: A Pentatonix Christmas by Pentatonix

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Coventry Carol” top a list of great songs
Cons: Two tracks seem out of place; repeated lyrics on a couple of others
The Bottom Line:
Christmas vocal fun
From quintet Pentatonix
Sure to please their fans

It’s Another Fun Pentatonix Christmas

When I found myself surprised by how much I loved Pentatonix’s last Christmas release, I vowed to pay attention to any future Christmas CD’s from this talented a cappella group.  So when A Pentatonix Christmas crossed my radar, I immediately made plans to add it to my Christmas collection.  I’m glad I did because it’s good.

If you are new to the group, this is a five person a cappella group featuring four guys and one woman.  But if you are thinking you know what they sound like because they are a cappella, don’t stick them in a box.  They are musical chameleons, blending in various styles to entertain and delight us.

Take the first two tracks.  “O Come All Ye Faithful” opens things up with a fairly traditional first verse.  But as the song progresses, it gets more and more African sounding.  Now if you are worried that this means they get disrespectful to the lyrics, don’t.  It works beautifully, and will leave you smiling with a different take on this classic carol.

The group completely switches times and locations with the next track, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” giving it a very proper Victorian feel.  Again, as the track goes on, they have some fun with it.  This is very easily the highlight of the disc and well worth the price of the disc all by itself.

So yes, we have two very diverse styles in just those first two tracks.  And yet, the changes we go through as the disc progresses are never jarring.  Pentatonix manages to blend everything together into a cohesive whole that is thoroughly entertaining and fun to listen to.

They even have a couple of original tracks on here.  “The Christmas Sing A-Long” is fun as it celebrates the joys of the season.  “Good to Be Bad’ finds member Kristin Maldonado singing about the things that might get her on the naughty list.  But will Santa let them slide?

The disc does have a few missteps.  Repeated lines in the hip hop infused “Up on the Housetop” and in “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” can be a bit annoying.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like both of these tracks; I just wish they’d cut down on repeating certain lines.  Then there’s “Hallelujah” and “Coldest Winter,” which feel out of place to me on a Christmas disc.  Don’t get me wrong, I love both of these covers as they are expertly done.  I just question what exactly they are doing here.

On the other hand, there’s “White Christmas.”  This song goes from very mild jazz to a fun slightly tropical feel.  Manhattan Transfer joins for this song, and it is a delight.

And I can’t leave out “Coventry Carol.”  I got super excited when I saw this on the song list.  I just knew that Pentatonix would do a fabulous arrangement of this lesser recorded song.  Even with such high expectations, they blew me away.  This is right up there with “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” for favorite song on the disc.

While A Pentatonix Christmas may not be quite as good as the other Christmas disc of theirs I have, it still have lots of great moments, and I’m thrilled to have it in my Christmas collection.  If you are looking for more great Christmas music, don’t hesitate to pick it up.

CD Length: 34:28
1. O Come, All Ye Faithful
2. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
3. White Christmas (Featuring Manhatten Transfer)
4. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
5. Up on the Housetop
6. The Christmas Sing-Along
7. Coventry Carol
8. Hallelujah
9. Coldest Winter
10. Good to be Bad
11. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

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