Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: First three tracks are fun
Cons: I have never been a fan of the second three tracks
The Bottom Line:
A second EP
Not as good as first for me
Due to selections
Song Selection Makes Marc's Second Christmas EP a Disappointment for Me
As a fan of Downhere (and I will miss that band forever), I've followed Marc Martel to his solo efforts. I was excited when I learned about The First Noel, since I had really enjoyed his first Christmas EP. Sadly, this one didn't measure up, but I suspect it's mostly a personal issue for me.
The project starts well with three wonderful songs. It opens with the upbeat "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas." This duet with Plumb was released as a single last Christmas, and it proved to be a radio hit. That's not a surprise since it is fun. "Mary, Did You Know?" comes next. This time, Marc teams up with Buddy Greene, who co-wrote the song. Their duet is phenomenal. Then again, I really do love this song. Finally, there's "The Christmas Song." This time, the guest is Scott Mulvahill, and once again, the duo create a fun version of the song.
It's the second half where things fall apart for me, and it is nothing but the song choice. The second half starts off with the title track, a song I find slow and boring. Marc does increase the temp a little on this track and adds a new chorus, but it still doesn't really work for me. Next up is "Ave Maria" followed by "The Hallelujah Chorus." I know, I know, they are both classic pieces, but they aren't to my taste. One or the other would have been fine, but having both back to back doesn't interest me.
But here's the thing, all three of these tracks are technically wonderful. Marc has the musical talent to pull them off well. I enjoy the bells used near the beginning of "The Hallelujah Chorus," and find his guitar heavy arrangement of "Ave Maria" fun. Marc tackles these three tracks without a major musical guest star, but his voice is so strong you don't need a duet.
The music on all of these tracks in minimal. The EP came about via a Go Fund Me (yes, I contributed), so there is no elaborate orchestra. Marc's background in a band comes through since keyboard and guitar are the predominate instruments. Yet you really aren't lacking anything. The vocals are strong and really do carry the tracks.
And that's why I'm still glad I got the release even if the second half songs aren't my favorites. I doubt I will specifically listen to these tracks on their own much, but mixed in with the rest of my Christmas music on my phone and computer, I will enjoy The First Noel EP.
CD Length: 22:11
1. It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas (feat. Plumb)
2. Mary, Did You Know? (feat. Buddy Greene)
3. The Christmas Song (feat. Scott Mulvahill)
4. The First Noel
5. Ave Maria
6. The Hallelujah Chorus