Christmas Album reviews
Ronnie D'Addario invites us to celebrate a new Christmas in the old style with all the charm of beautiful songs.
MAGIC POP - by ALEX MARTI PUIG
Christmas is the great celebration of good intentions by which we wish our own all the best and pray for peace among men and women of good will. I tend to feel overwhelmed, unable to greet these holidays with the enthusiasm they deserve, and I have some difficulty sharing so much love for my neighbor. I have use of reason and I do not consider myself unusual for not participating in excess of the bacchanal of sentimentality typical of these days.
That said, I thought that in 2018, I would experience a Christmas like so many others, when I had the great good fortune to listen to an album entitled "A Good Old Fashioned Brand New Christmas" recently released by You Are The Cosmos and created by the great composer, singer and instrumentalist, Ronnie D'Addario. An album where the Christmas spirit is expressed through his own songs and exquisite cover versions, with the skill and imagination that characterizes his past works.
Supported by his two sons, Brian and Michael (The Lemon Twigs), among other excellent musicians, Ronnie gives us 16 fantastic songs that, I must admit have reached the depths of my soul. They are beautiful melodies accompanied by rhythms solid, sweet, and stitched together by tender arrangements--angelic voices and luxurious instrumentation; Filled with good wishes for happiness and personal improvement that end up making this record a very convincing and ideal soundtrack to celebrate this time of year. I invite you to celebrate with Magic Pop, without prejudice this Christmas offering.
The album opens with "Keep His Name In Christmas", where streets are lit and shops are full, without forgetting that a "child" was born that illuminated the road. Recalling songs of peace and happiness, the artist dazzles us with full harmony, a beautiful melody, guitars, percussion, bells, keyboards and sweet choirs.
Continuing with "One Bright Star", a song from the mid-eighties by John Jarvis, in which D'Addario puts his own personal stamp, maintaining the melancholy of the song with commendable skill.
It is followed by "Brand New Christmas", an original rocker, in which he reminds us that Christmas can also be a time of renewal, to start over again, leave behind the past, to learn and grow, an ideal moment to prepare the path of happiness. What a sensational, vibrant song! Powerpop guitars, strong phrasing, more enveloping keyboards, and changes of rhythm where rattles and bells are intertwined with wisdom and Ronnie's beautiful voice.
The next song, "Whatever Happened To Christmas" by Jimmy Webb. A song from the end of the sixties in which several examples of the D'Addario universe of sound emerges.
Next we hear "The Christmas Waltz" from the prolific composer duo Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn. Song of the late fifties that, in the hands of Ronnie, transforms into another musical wonder that reaffirms the excellence of this great musician. The arrangements, without excesses, maintains simplicity, a perfect accompaniment of piano, harmonies, and percussion.
"One Day" is another D’Addario original. It has a solemn symphonic beginning, piano arpeggios, Christmassy percussion, and what emerges is the angelic voice of Brian as a child. A moving and touching record. This sensational melody gives off emotional heat that is perfect for a winter day and expresses desire for peace and love on Earth, wishing that one day all wars will cease and it will be Christmas all year.
We arrive at "Sleigh Ride", song of the late forties, composed by Leroy Anderson. A charming duet between Ron and singer Tina Kassangana. Christmas flourishes everywhere around a dreamy melody.
Midway through the album, he offers "Lo How A Rose E'er Blooming", Christmas carol of German origin whose English translation was written by Theodore Baker at the end of the 19th century. Another excellent arrangement that reimagines the pastoral beauty of this song with an air of acid folk, exquisite voice, guitar and keyboards and percussion.
Next we hear "In the Bleak Mid Winter", a carol based on a poem by Christina Rossetti, an English poet who wrote it at the end of the 19th century, with versions by Gustav Holst, and by Harold Drake at the beginning of the 20th century. Again we are moved with unique instrumental and vocal work, charming strings, piano arpeggios, acoustic guitar and voice embroidering the main melody.
Following is "Caroling Caroling" by Wihla Hutson and Alfred Burt, a song from the middle fifties, originally written to accompany a Christmas card. Here we are delighted appropriately enough by sublime, magnificent choral singing.
"Curoo Curoo", an Irish Christmas song, features a wide range of emotional soring vocal nuances that will make you feel joyful. The version here incorporates a single organ interpretation of the classic piece,
"Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring", tenth movement of the cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 by the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, written during his first year in Leipzig , Germany, at the beginning of the 18th century.
Finally "I'll Walk Beside You", love song from the late thirties, twentieth century, created by Alan Murray and Edward Lockton, that in the hands of D'Addario becomes a huge and penetrating piano and voice
Three bonus cuts follow.
"Walk the Walk", a song that speaks of conquering the world with good feelings, of asking for help if we fall, of practicing what we preach, and of finding the necessary tools we need to teach, to learn to walk before we run. A very dynamic and lively song with hints of folk country pop, featuring mandolin, acoustic guitars, violin, and exquisite vocal harmonies.
The penultimate track, "As Strong As Samson" by Procol Harum, composed by Gary Brooker and Keith Reid, from their album of the mid-seventies, "Exotic Birds and Fruit". Ronnie transforms this penetrating song into one of his exalted repertoire, endowing it with the best of his art. A huge work filled with solid vocal harmonies.
Closing this delicious album, another self penned song called, "Time To Invest" in which he tells us that it is time to "invest" in the Lord, instead of thinking so much about money, only to end up turning this world into a real disaster. The last song of this excellent, memorable, indispensable album. Here is beauty, with that perfect combination of melody and tempo so typical of this great composer and performer. An exceptional theme to celebrate Christmas, utilizing the rhythm of gospel and pop.
I'm not surprised that "White Christmas" recorded by Bing Crosby in 1941 is the best-selling single of all time. Several artists, from different eras and styles, have recorded their corresponding Christmas albums--
Elvis Presley, Beach Boys, Phil Spector with Darlene Love, The Ronettes, Bob B Soxx & The Blue Jeans and The Crystals, even Bob Dylan, to name a few.
Ronnie D'Addario's album, "A Good Old Fashioned Brand New Christmas", on You Are The Cosmos records, is an exceptional work that celebrates Christmas with songs of immeasurable beauty that takes into account our desire to survive in a world without as many men and women of good will as we would like. With illuminated streets, crowded shops, Ronnie illuminates the season by reminding us that we continue to renew ourselves with a feeling of happiness.
So enjoy your music, celebrate Christmas with our best wishes for you and yours from the entire team of Magic Pop.
Note: The digipack includes the lyrics of D'Addario's original songs, a Christmas motif on the cover and a childhood picture of his boys on the back cover along with album credits.
You can acquire the CD on You Are The Cosmos records (Europe),
and at, www.ronniedaddario.com in the US.