With the Christmas season fast approaching, it's most definitely time for some new holiday music, and Seabird is at the top of that list. Riding on the success of 2009's The Silent Night EP, the band has returned with a more expanded project entitled Over the Hills and Everywhere - A Christmas EP. Filled with seven fresh renditions of seasonal favorites, the EP is a new and fun take on the classic Christmas sound.
Over the Hills and Everywhere starts off with a Coldplay-meets-Sherwood version of "Angels We Have Heard on High," filled with plenty of acoustic guitar and synth-laden goodness. Next up is the peppy "Go Tell It On the Mountain" and perhaps the best interpretation of "What Child is This" since it was originally penned. "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" gets a completely new twist as singer Aaron Morgan's piano notes and a well-placed banjo turn the Christmas classic into a new Seabird gem. The EP slows down with "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," spinning a bit of a contemplative mood into the mix with a crescendoing combination of keys and orchestral strings. Longtime listeners will remember the closing two tracks, the poppy "Joy to the World" and alternative-tinged "Silent Night," from the aforementioned Silent Night EP, as they manage to end Over the Hills on just as much of a high note as it started.
Seabird has proven itself as a much-needed breath of fresh air in the industry today, and Over the Hills is absolutely no different. In classic form, the band has managed to take seven Christmas selections and turn them into beautifully arranged, radio-friendly tunes without the result sounding processed or stale. Unfortunately, a little bit of seasonal spirit seems to have gotten lost in the sweeping melodies and exciting percussion. While Seabird's fresh looks at the timeless arrangements are irresistibly fun, they're only vaguely recognizable covers of the originals. Simply put, this is not your grandmother's Christmas album... and let's face it, sometimes the holidays require your grandmother's Christmas album.
All in all, Over the Hills and Everywhere is one of the most solid collection of Christmas songs to come around in quite some time. Easily accessible and deftly arranged, it's sure to stay stuck in your head long after the presents have been unwrapped and the tree has been taken down. If you can look past the minor detail that none of the enclosed tracks sound like any rendition you've ever heard previously, Over the Hills will make an excellent stocking stuffer.- Review date: 12/2/10, written by Garrett DeRossett of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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