Smalltown Poets: Christmas Time Again
Reviewed By Michelle C. Danko
Released: November 25, 2014
Label: Friendly City Records
Price: $8.99 USD on Amazon.
Smalltown Poets have reunited and returned to the studio to record their second Christmas album, Christmas Time Again.
Christmas Time Again is a collection of traditional Christmas carols with a new electronic spin and some of their own written material. In this album, Smalltown Poets seemingly played with genre a bit (and did it well) in their songs. The listener will hear bits of a five part accapella rendition of some songs, a hint of rhythm and blues, electronic elements, and a bit of rock. It is a very different and bold choice to create a Christmas album in this manner, but it pays off for Smalltown Poets. The music is changed up enough to make it interesting, but not enough to take away from that classic feel.
What Child is This?: Full gospel choir opens the song with soft drum rhythm beating in the background to give it a more electric feel. Guitars come in with their rhythm, and then all instruments stop. Then the music to What Child is This begins with the piano. No vocals.
The Wassail Song: Rock version of the traditional song. Synth keyboard elements are added to the track making it more updated and contemporary. It is sung very playfully and with an upbeat tempo. It is a very interesting version of the song with all of the different elements added to it.
Christmas Time Again: Very beautifully sung with a piano accompaniment. It almost sounds very Elton John-ish (some of his earlier works). Background vocals come in during the chorus. The song is about a husband returning home for the holidays and reserving a place at the table. It describes all of the elements of Christmas: family, gifts, and celebrating the birth of Jesus. Then the lyrics fast-forward to when the person was elderly, and then his family takes their grandpa to their home for Christmas.
Joy to the World: Rock version of Joy to the World with a hint of Rhythm and Blues. Chorus changed to “Sing the Wonders of His Love” which was a nice touch to a traditional song.
This Day in Bethlehem: Guitar strums beautifully in the background with periodic violin notes. Drums enter in during the second verse. This Day in Bethlehem describes the birth of Jesus as it unfolds, but doesn’t stop there. It included the entire story of His life and what it means to the believer.
Angels from the Realms of Glory: Nicely sung version of a traditional Christmas classic. It was made a bit more contemporary with the choice in instruments, but not much was changed from the original. The chorus was nicely done with another person joining in the vocals, and yet another vocalist doing a beautiful “Ah…” in the background.
Good King Wenceslas: Tempo was slowed down a bit in this version, and the harmonies are wonderful. The vocals are deep and rich in this version, and the backup vocals enhance both the mood, and beauty of this song.
Merrily on High: Beautiful accompaniment with the electric guitar and piano. Merrily on High is playfully sung with a bit of a Celtic flair. The trumpets at the end give it a majestic feel.
Patapan: Patapan begins with a driving guitar beat with drums to match. Patapan is a very complex and fast paced song to sing at the verses. Corus is beautifully and melodically sung. Instrumental choice is interesting, and works well for this song.
Sing We Now of Christmas: Richly done with spectacular vocals, the soft beating of drums, and the harp.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear: It Came upon a Midnight Clear is sung and played the same as the original during the first verse without too much change up. Beats are added to the background at the chorus, which is a nice touch. The first chorus that was sung has more of an electronic feel added to it. The vocals after the second verse sound ethereal and effortless. The third verse crescendos beautifully bringing the listener into more of a worship environment.
Children Go Where I Send Thee: This song is sung with a beautiful five part acaepella harmony. It is a beautiful rendition of the song, and shows off the artists range quite eloquently.
Christmas Lullaby: Christmas Lullaby is very relaxing and peaceful to listen to. It brings the listener back to their childhood with a simple melody. The cello adds an already warm feel to the song with its deep baritone notes.
Auld Lang Syne: Almost has an ominous feel to the beginning with the rapid playing of the piano. The guitar melody slows the song down and creates more of a festive atmosphere. Then midway through, ethereal vocals enter in to create a sweet illusion and give it a quite surreal feel.
Christmas Time Again is nicely done and adds a warm Christmas feel to the holidays. Their choice in varying the genres makes this album very unique, and everyone will find a song that they can relate to.