Good Christmas music can sometimes be hard to find. An artist can take a beloved holiday tune and by merely adding their "spin" to it - destroy it. They will take liberties with these precious songs and tamper with the melody, alter the music, and in the end completely ruin it. But with David Ian, that is not the case. His captivating 2011 release Vintage Christmas nostalgically grabbed listeners from beginning to end and, continuing in that trend, is this years EP Vintage Christmas Wonderland.
The album begins with the warm and smooth "Angels We Have Heard On High." The slick entrance of the piano sets the stage beautifully for the charming vocals of Acacia, who was featured extensively on Ian's previous release. With an ever so slight melodic change in the "glo" of "Gloria, in excelsis deo," it gives it a less liturgical sound and more of a laid back jazz feeling. Ian's respect for the nostalgic sound really shines through and his intimate approach is an excellent way to begin an album.
This go-around, Ian provides only two instrumental tracks, "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "The First Noel." Both are very reminiscent of Vince Guaraldi's work on A Charlie Brown Christmas. These tracks are simplistic in presentation but have layers of complex jazz rhythm. Honestly, the lack of vocals actually enhances the experience as they are very relaxed easy-listening moments.
"Winter Wonderland" features the return of another David Ian collaborator, Mr. Andre Miguel Mayo. His sultry vocals really add richness to the song. Mayo's voice doesn't try to emulate other contemporaries such as Michael Buble or Jamie Cullum - his tone is original and very soothing. In addition, musically, the song is fantastic. A major compliment should be given to the percussion of this song - it showcases elegant and restrained use of instrumentation. Concluding the album is an energetic rendition of "Jingle Bells." Its bubbly feeling is an outstanding note to bring the EP to a close, and by the end you'll be singing along with Acacia and special guest, her sister and co-leader of the group Tal and Acacia, Tal as they cheerfully sing, "J-I-N-G-L-E bells."
David Ian has without a doubt made another collection of songs that should be added to the family holiday playlists. The only real complaint with this latest release is that it is so short. It comes and goes faster than the holiday season and leaves listeners wanting more. However, if Ian's plan were to release a Vintage Christmas EP annually for a number of years - he will most definitely capture more and more followers with each release. Nevertheless, this album is a must-have and surely makes for the most pleasant listening experience. Start up the fire, go get a blanket, put a cup of hot chocolate in your hand, and sit back to start this Christmas season off right with David Ian and the gang.
- Review date: 10/5/13, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com