Trans Siberian Orchestra is back at it again. It’s been over fifteen years since this famed melodic power rock band first turned the world of Christmas music on its ear with its blend of classical, rock, and holiday sounds. And it’s been eight years since the band’s last holiday themed release, The Lost Christmas Eve (2004). Now, the band has returned to form after the release of its most recent album, Night Castle with the release of its new EP, Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night).
TSO’s new EP offers fans four new songs and one that revisits an old classic and updates it at the same time. That track is the EP’s title track. Long-time fans of TSO will instantly recognize the band’s song ‘Queen Of The Winter Night’ in this song. The change here though is that it has been mixed in with the final movement of Vivaldi’s legendary ‘Four Seasons’ opus. Obviously, going back in time for this song has and will continue to divide the band’s legions. But adding in new material makes for an interesting musical reboot of sorts.
The EP’s opener, ‘Winter Palace’ is the perfect first impression for this new release. Its ominous piano based intro will instantly grab listeners and keep their attention throughout the course of the song’s near four minute run time. It’s the song’s buildup from the first bars to the sudden harder edged rock sound that makes it such a powerful first song. It will instantly conjure thoughts of the band’s breakthrough hit, ‘Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24’ with its overall tone. And its transition into the EP’s title track adds even more power to the overall general effect of this new release.
The EP’s third track, ‘I Had a Memory’ is just as…well…memorable as song as anything that the band has released over the course of its “Christmas Trilogy.” This one will instantly conjure thoughts of ‘Faith Noel’ also from the band’s previous Christmas album, The Lost Christmas Eve. Fans will recall that after the song’s initial slower opening “A” section, the tempo picks up in its “B” section. The overall sound here even goes to more of a rock based sound. A side by side comparison of the two songs will surely show the similarity. While the band obviously looked to its roots for this piece, it can’t be said that the band directly ripped itself off. But the influence of its previous record is undoubtedly there in this song.
The influence of the band’s previous works is evident even as it moves into the EP’s penultimate track, ‘Someday.’ Stylistically, its emotional, almost folksy sound is similar to that of certain material from the band’s debut 1996 album, Christmas Eve and Other Stories. What’s different here though, is the song’s lyrical side. Lyrically, it is a tribute on the part of TSO founder and singer Paul O’ Neill to his parents sung by vocalist Tim Hockenberry. Hockenberry’s haunting vocal style won’t leave a single eye dry after hearing singing here, “So I wrote these words/And I hope they last/For the years have come/And the years have passed/Think of all they gave/Think of all the debt/But can’t find a way/To repay them yet/For the days still come/And the debt still mounts/And do words unsaid/Ever really count/But sometimes still/In the dead of night/I can see them there/In the pale moonlight/I am trying/And I don’t know how/And I don’t know when/But I’ll have to tell them/Someday.” It’s not just Hockenberry’s vocals that will move listeners in this emotional piece, either. The music makes for a fitting compliment to Hockenberry’s gritty and almost mournful vocals in this song. Together, they make one more highlight to the EP. It’s a song that will leave even the strongest person at least a little teary eyed.
TSO’s new EP closes out with the gentle and equally emotional vocals of singer Georgia Napolitano on ‘Time You Should Be Sleeping.’ Yet again, TSO has reached back into its bag of tricks here as its obvious this song was influenced at least some part by the band’s song, ‘Dream Child’ from its 1998 album, ‘The Christmas Attic.’ Napolitano’s vocals are so powerful in their gentility, proving once more the old adage that less is more is very true. Listeners can almost see this loving mother figure holding her young child, smiling down on said child as she sings, “I can see you breathing/Know that I am near you/Feel the evening whisper/In gentle sighs/To close your eyes until tomorrow/Childhood dreams are always new/And when you are there I’ll follow/And believe that my whole life is…/You.” If this final moment doesn’t send chills and draw tears once more from listeners, then it’s anyone’s guess what would. ‘Time You Should Be Sleeping’ doesn’t necessarily show any real Christmas themes. But that aside, its beautiful lullaby style sound and lyrics make it the perfect counterpart to the EP’s opener, gently landing listeners on another musical shore after the journey taken from the EP’s other songs, thus closing one more impressive release from one of rock’s greatest and most talented bands around today.
Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night) is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct online via TSO’s online store at http://transsiberianorchestra.shop.bravadousa.com/. It can also be picked up at the band’s shows as it tours the country in support of the new release and its most recently full length Christmas album, The Lost Christmas Eve. To get a full list of tour dates and all the latest news from the band, audiences can go online to http://www.facebook.com/TSO or http://www.trans-siberian.com.
To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.