Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Music Review: Evergreen by Pentatonix

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Creative, vibrant arrangements
Cons: A few of the songs are a bit odd
The Bottom Line:
Mixed Christmas music
All the arrangements shine here
Some songs don’t connect

Will This Be an Evergreen Christmas Release?

At this point, I am pretty much amazed when Pentatonix comes out with a new Christmas CD that has any traditional songs on it we haven’t already gotten from them.  We have a good selection of familiar tracks on Evergreen, but with the wonderful Pentatonix twist.

Depending on how you count traditional Christmas songs will determine how many you say are on this disc.  There are a couple of very easy contenders.  “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” and “Frosty the Snowman” are prime examples.  The group is joined by Alessia Cara on “Frosty.”  They go with an up-tempo take on “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” which I really enjoy.  The rhythm on “I Saw Three Ships” is delightful.  And they close things out with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Then there are the almost traditional Christmas songs.  They seem to be showing up more and more, at least on the discs I buy.  We’re talking about songs like Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.”  I’m not usually a fan of this song, but I really do like the take on it here.  We’ve also got “Home for the Holidays” and “Little Saint Nick.”

The title track is a song that the members of Pentatonix wrote themselves.  It’s more about a mother’s love than Christmas itself, but they are using the season as a launching point.  Still, you’d do just fine if you pulled it out in May.

And then there are the other tracks.  I’m not sure some of these really belong on a Christmas disc.  For example, the short intro track “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” is more about romance.  The same is true with Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” and “My Heart with You” also fall into this category, at least for me.  Now, that isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the tracks.  Their arrangements are fantastic, sometimes achingly beautiful.  I’m glad I have them.  I just am questioning their place on a Christmas disc.

If you aren’t familiar with Pentatonix, you really are missing out.  This group of five is an outstanding a cappella group.  The harmonies they achieve, and the full sound they get is outstanding.  Their arrangements are fresh, and sometimes extremely dramatic.  It’s hard not to enjoy the songs even if you struggle to follow exactly what the songs are about, like “River.”

The one exception to Pentatonix’s a cappella here is “Over the River.”  Lindsey Stirling joins the group with her exceptional violin playing.  Once again, the arrangement is perfect at combining the violin to their amazing vocals, and it’s great to have this song included since I don’t think I have it anywhere else.

The first time through the disc, I didn’t quite connect with it, but as I’ve been listening to it over the last few weeks, it is quickly growing on me.  Still, I think a few of the odder song choices will keep this from being one of their top Christmas releases.

Fans will hardly complain, however.  The creative and perfectly executed arrangements will keep them pulling out Evergreen every Christmas.

CD Length: 39:35
1. It’s Been a Long, Long Time
2. Wonderful Christmastime
3. I Saw Three Ships
4. Home for the Holidays
5. River
6. Over the River (Featuring Lindsey Stirling)
7. The Prayer
8. Evergreen
9. Frosty the Snowman (Featuring Alessia Cara)
10. I Just Called to Say I Love You
11. Little Saint Nick
12. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
13. My Heart with You
14. We Wish You a Merry Christmas

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