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Vocal Few, Snowdrift EP
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Vocal Few
Snowdrift EP



Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Acoustic / Singer-Songwriter / Folk
Album length: 5 tracks: 18 minutes, 11 seconds
Street Date: November 25, 2016
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It's been a year since we've heard from acoustic duo Vocal Few, made up of The Classic Crime's Matt MacDonald and his wife Kristie. They usually release an EP every time they're expecting a child, and while their last effort, The Dream Alive was an exception to this rule, this latest release, Snowdrift, was not, and the MacDonalds welcomed their son River into the world during the recording and production process. Snowdrift only took a few weeks to complete, and Vocal Few eagerly posted it for pre-order in late October. After hearing Vocal Few describe this EP as "Christmas music for people who don't like Christmas music," this reviewer thought "challenge accepted!"

Snowdrift opens with the mellow yet cheerful "Ice Storm 2008 (Merry Christmas)." This song showcases what Vocal Few does best with their music--describe scenes of life and tell stories about people. The song humorously describes the experience of a couple stranded at home on Christmas due to a blizzard, as they watch their neighbors build a snowman, witness a car skid down the street, and ride a hydroplaning bus to a local dive to celebrate. Lines like "People share our smiles as they can relate / Yeah, we're forced to accept the things that we cannot change" remind the listener that natural disasters show us how much alike we all can be.

Lest the listener think this will be a completely lighthearted outing, the three middle songs ("Oh Holy Night (There's Only Love)," "Not Giving Up," and "Beloved") add quiet urgency to this release. "Oh Holy Night…" is not a cover of the traditional "O Night Divine," but rather a minor key reworking of the chorus with original verses focusing on the hope of salvation we have in our Savior. "Not Giving Up" is the flip side to the story told in the opener--instead of going outside and making the best of the snowy day, this couple stays shut inside with the windows boarded up and commiserates. Chilling lines like "Do you find hope? / Is it hanging by a rope in your heart?" give way to a hopeful ending, in which the key of the song changes and the couple declares "You are my only hope / I'm not giving up!" "Beloved" is a dreamy song that gently urges the listener to "Believe you're beloved and live." The incorporation of bells in the back end of the song lend it a holiday feeling, but it never turns cheesy or sentimental.

Closer "Cheers to Your Holiday" is a pleasant way to end this thoughtful and concise EP. Images of snow, hot cocoa, family gatherings, and wrapping gifts are pretty universal for this time of year, regardless of people's beliefs. Vocal Few wishes everyone well in their repeating refrain "Cheers to your holiday / Whatever way you choose to celebrate it / Here's to you…" If taken out of context, this song can undermine the messages of the three previous songs, so listeners might want to hear to the entire Snowdrift EP to get the full story. "Cheers…" is an all-inclusive holiday sing-along song, and it's meant to make everyone happy.

Those who are holiday music aficionados will find the Snowdrift EP to be an interesting and engaging listen, while those who are weary of songs like "Let It Snow" and "Silent Night" will enjoy the less traditional route of this release. Vocal Few has crafted a unique set of songs that encapsulate both the warm and the chilly emotions that come during this time of the year, and Snowdrift can be enjoyed long after the holidays have passed.

- Review date: 11/25/16, written by Nicole Marie Vacca of Jesusfreakhideout.com
A Second Opinion
Stars
I'm always up for a Matt MacDonald fronted project and love the guy's voice. Vocal Few, co-fronted by his wife Kristie, is no exception to the rule. Their latest EP, Snowdrift, is an interesting listen and certainly not your typical Christmas album. "Ice Storm 2008 (Merry Christmas)" is a fairly festive sounding song, but is more about the story involving a winter storm than the holiday itself. The minor tones of "Oh Holy Night (There's Only Love)" make it a stranger listen, but when Matt belts out, "Fall on your knees (to the tune of the traditional "O Holy Night") before the King and He will wash your feet," you nearly get chills. "Not Giving Up" continues the melancholy feel both musically and thematically. "Beloved" is a pretty sounding song, featuring a softly picked guitar. The song talks about the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross and encourages the listener to "Believe you're beloved and live." Some of the lyrics here will be open to a theological debate amongst listeners, but the overarching theme of Christ's sacrifice and love should ring true. Finally, the album ends on the same festive note it begins with. "Cheers to Your Holiday" is more an attempt to be inclusive of all faiths and persons this season and less of an attempt to be politically correct (the previous four songs prove Matt and Kristie aren't afraid to say "Christmas" or discuss Jesus in relationship to the holiday). The song is a happy little number and its meaning and message are innocuous. Beyond the theological debate many are likely to have over "Beloved," the only thing that some may find offensive are the two references to alcoholic beverages ("Hot whiskey apple cider" in "Ice Storm 2008 (Merry Christmas) and "Cognac" in "Cheers to Your Holiday"). These aren't major issues, but some will want to know that these references are present. If you're looking for a happy Christmas album to add to your playlist, the Vocal Few's Snowdrift EP is definitely not for you. However, if you're looking for something more introspective and different this holiday season, this is very likely the album you've been waiting for. - Review date: 12/13/16, Michael Weaver

 

. Record Label: BC Music
. Album length: 5 tracks: 18 minutes, 11 seconds
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: Amazon.com

  1. Ice Storm 2008 (Merry Christmas) (4:12)
  2. Oh Holy Night (There's Only Love) (3:09)
  3. Not Giving Up (3:08)
  4. Beloved (4:21)
  5. Cheers to Your Holiday (3:21)

 

 

 

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