It’s beginning to look (and sound) a lot like Christmas again, and this year, it sure seems like it’s happening even sooner than ever. Maybe that is just this critic’s own interpretation. TBS and TNT have already started running holiday programming to apparently compete with Hallmark. The ads for the holiday sales in stores are already on TV, too, and the holiday tunes are already pumping on some radio stations nationwide. For many, it’s an overdose so to speak. For those who would rather wait until after Thanksgiving, it is possible to avoid it all at least to a point. For everyone else, it’s there. Regardless of which side one takes on the “great debate” there is one thing to which both sides can agree, and that is that there are at least some positives to the annual entertainment options each year. This year, one of those options is family music entertainer Laurie Berkner’s new record, Another Laurie Berkner Christmas. The 18-song record is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining new offering from the veteran musician and performer. That is due in large part to its featured songs. The songs in question are a blend of covers and originals. The covers are of note for their own right and will be discussed shortly. The covers are just as of note and will be discussed a little later. The songs’ sequencing rounds out the record’s most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record’s presentation. All things considered they make Another Laurie Berkner Christmas one of the rare welcome compilations of holiday music released so far this year.
Another Laurie Berkner Christmas, the new holiday music compilation from family music entertainer Laurie Berkner, is a rare diamond in the rough so to speak of this year’s annual flood of holiday music collections. That is thanks to its combination of covers and originals. The covers are of note because they are themselves a mix of commonly and not so commonly tackled works. Among the more familiar, overly common covers featured in this collection are the likes of ‘Winter Wonderland,’ ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ and ‘Deck The Halls.’ Alongside those works are a surprisingly enjoyable take of Handel’s timeless ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ an equally surprisingly enjoyable ‘Here We Come A-Wassailing’ and ‘What Child Is This (Greensleaves)’. In regards to the more commonly covered pieces, they are enjoyable because Berkner and her fellow musicians do not go the same route as so many other acts. For instance, instead of the way too happy happy joy joy approach that so many acts have taken to ‘Winter Wonderland,’ Berkner and company take a much simpler approach to the song. The layered vocals in the opening bars and the simple use of the keyboard and drums give the song a certain innocence in the overall simplicity. That innocence and simplicity makes this arrangement so surprisingly endearing; so much more so, honestly, than so many other takes that other more well-known acts have composed. The almost country music vibe that Berkner and company gave to ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ is surprising in its own right yet somehow so enjoyable, too because it is so simple and different from so many other takes on the song. In the case of the less covered but still familiar ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Handel’s Messiah, the layered vocals here really give the song that familiar choral effect to which so many audiences are familiar. What’s more Berkner really uses this song as a moment to put her full talent on display as a vocalist and succeeds so well. The controlled use of the trumpets alongside the vocals here add even more depth to the arrangement even being so simple overall. The whole makes this its own unique cover that when considered along with the other covers examined here and with the rest of the covers, makes that mass so fully engaging and entertaining. They collectively form a solid foundation for this record.
The originals that Berkner and company feature as part of the record’s body build on that foundation and strengthen this record’s presentation all the more. One of the most notable of the collection’s originals comes in the form of ‘I Live Inside A Snowglobe (Shake It Up)’. This song comes early in the album’s run and presents Berkner’s trademark kindie pop sound with its mid-tempo approach. The use of the shaker directly alongside Berkner as she sings, “Shake it up” is such a fun part of the song. The steady rim knocks on the snare drum alongside the guitar and keyboard in the verses collectively keep the song moving and engaging.
On another note, the steady guitar line at the center of the original, ‘Icicles’ is its own unique presentation. The rounds that are used through the layering of Berkner’s vocals here join with that simple guitar line to make the arrangement even more intriguing. That steady, almost gliding effect from the guitar creates that image of icicles forming on trees, eaves on houses and other items. It does so well to illustrate the old adage the less is more. To that end Berkner is to be highly commended here, too.
The light, silly approach taken in ‘Time To Eat – Holiday’ is another example of Berkner’s trademark kindie music. In the case of this song, the use of the repetition makes the song most appealing to Pre-K age children. The simple musical approach meanwhile will make it appealing to audiences of all ages. It is just one more example of how much the originals in this collection play into the overall presentation. When the originals are considered alongside the compilation’s covers, the whole makes the set’s body a fully enjoyable holiday presentation that the entire family will find enjoyable.
As much as the overall content does to make Another Laurie Berkner Christmas enjoyable, it is just part of what makes the record worth hearing. The sequencing of that content does its own part to make the record enjoyable. From beginning to end, the record’s sequence keeps the compilation’s energy relatively stable even as the songs’ sounds and styles change. Case in point is the immediate change between ‘Holly Jolly Christmas,’ which opens the record and its immediate follow-up, the cover of ‘Good King Wenceslas.’ The two songs are so different in their sounds and styles, yet the transition works surprisingly well. The energy picks right back up again in ‘I Live Inside a Snowglobe (Shake It Up)’ with its more pop style approach and sound. The group’s take of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ changes things again stylistically yet the energy remains just as stable here, thus keeping things interesting. Things continue on from there right to the albums end without fail as each song gives way to the next. The result is a record that, again, the whole family will find surprisingly enjoyable. They will find the compilation a surprising diamond in the rough of this year’s field of new holiday music sets.
Another Laurie Berkner Christmas, the new holiday music collection from family music entertainer Laurie Berkner, is a surprisingly welcome addition to this year’s field of new holiday music compilations. That is due in large part to its collected songs. The songs are a stable mix of originals and covers. The covers are themselves a blend of songs that are pretty commonly covered and some that are not as commonly covered by most mainstream music acts. What’s more, the way in which Berkner and her fellow musicians take on the covers makes each one unique in its own way and in turn, engaging and entertaining. The originals are interesting in that they present so much of Berkner’s familiar kid friendly sounds and styles while still appealing in their own way to older audiences. The sequencing of that content rounds out the record’s most important elements. That is because of its ability to keep the compilation’s energy stable throughout its run. Each item examined here is important in its own way to this compilation. All things considered they make Another Laurie Berkner Christmas a true musical gift to the entire family this holiday season.
Another Laurie Berkner Christmas is available now. More information on the compilation is available along with all of Laurie Berkner’s latest news at:
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