Monday, December 17, 2018

Music Review: Christmastime is Here by Marc Martel

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Six great arrangements of familiar songs
Cons: New tracks would be nice
The Bottom Line:
Six more Christmas songs
Get makeovers from Marc.  A
Seasonal delight

Here are More Great Songs to Enjoy at Christmastime

Marc Martel is back with his third EP of Christmas music in as many years.  As soon as I saw it announced, I got my copy of Christmastime is Here, and I'm so glad I did.

This year's release consists of six tracks of newly covered Christmas songs.  Yes, I already have other versions of these songs, but Marc does a great job of breathing new life into the songs and making them his own.  Easily, my favorite is "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."  Granted, I love this song as it is, but his voice crooning the lyrics is magical.  He's used an alternative lyric for one line that helps this version stand out.

Things kick off with the title track, which incorporates a bit more rock and a bit less jazz than usual covers of this classic from A Charlie Brown Christmas.  These changes actually works quite well.

Previous EP’s have included one or more guest vocalists.  The only track to have a guest vocalist this down is "O Come All Ye Faithful."  Marc is joined by Jason Gray.  I love Jason's music, which I found when he was first touring with Marc's old band Downhere.  It's fun to have them together like this.  Their version of the song is upbeat, and I'm discovering I enjoy this classic hymn when it is faster than traditionally sung.  On the other hand, his version of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" is very traditional.  Nothing wrong with that since it is such a great carol.

"All I Want for Christmas is You" is slowed down just a bit here.  In fact, the arrangement reminds me of a big bang swing song (as I said, just barely slowed down).  I'm not the biggest fan of the song, but I definitely like this arrangement of it.

The EP closes with "Little Drummer Boy," which is the only slight misstep.  And I mentioned it was a slight misstep, right?  It feels just a bit slow, which tends to drag out this song.  On the other hand, the boys’ choir that joins him half way through it lots of fun.

If Marc is going to keep turning out these Christmas EPs, I hope he'll write an original Christmas song or two.  It's not like I need more covers of these songs in my Christmas collection.  However, the versions here are traditional enough to make it feel like Christmas from the start while still being fresh enough that they don't feel like versions we've heard a million times before each year.

I'm definitely glad I've added Christmastime is Here to my Christmas collection.  If you are looking for new Christmas music this year, I definitely recommend you pick up this EP.

Length: 21:49
1. Christmastime is Here
2. O Come All Ye Faithful (with Jason Gray)
3. O Little Town of Bethlehem
4. All I Want for Christmas is You
5. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
6. The Little Drummer Boy

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