Mark Tremonti – Christmas Classics New & Old. No time of year is heavier with the warmth of nostalgia than Christmas, the magic of the season shining a light upon all. For most, it’s a time of celebration and the opportunity to be with family and friends, all enjoying the sights, smells and sounds so key to our attachments that go back to our first memories. Every December, classic films and songs come out to be enjoyed once again, traditions upheld, and rituals completed, all taking us back to the embrace of days past.
Mark Tremonti – Christmas Classics New & Old
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Music has always been such a cornerstone of the season, from the earliest carols to modern music that conjures images and emotions of the season. While many have bought out albums specifically inspired by Christmas, it can certainly be hit and miss, the quality of some patchy, to say the least, a cheap and quick cash-in that rings hollow. This year, though, Mark Tremonti has saved the Christmas album.
Following on from his wildly successful and critically acclaimed Mark Tremonti Sings Frank Sinatra release last year, the polymathic and versatile musician has reunited with the same team to put together Christmas Classics New & Old.
Consisting of nine well-loved staples of the season and one newly penned number, this again is a love letter to the stylings of Sinatra, the big band era and all the perennial classics of yesteryear. With some of the best musicians in the world joining him and sparkling production, the whole is something to be embraced and soaked up, the sheer wonder and tenderness intoxicating.
Tremonti’s obvious affection for Ol’ Blue Eyes is as evident here as it was last year, the singer/guitarist paying respectful homage to arguably the best interpreter of the classic American songbook that ever lived. Never turning things into a poor pastiche, Tremonti’s natural tone and superb phrasing bring to mind Sinatra during his Columbia Record years, the youthful vigour and twinkle there in his performance.
This sounds very much like an album that Sinatra would have recorded himself if the technology we have today had existed then, the layers, care and class that made those original records so timeless.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is the perfect opener, its clean sound and great arrangement brimming with a genuine warmth as it welcomes the listener into this Winter wonderland of song.
Throughout, the instrumentation is dazzling, the musicians a mix of veterans of the scene and newer talent as both work together with a natural ease born from experience and passion. Certainly, this is an album to have on as presents are unwrapped or a meal eaten, but it also demands to be properly listened to and enjoyed, each note appreciated and absorbed.
There’s a misty-eyed rose-tinted 1950s feel to Jingle Bells, Tremonti’s vocal excellent, and The Christmas Song a stripped-back delight, the light drum brushes, delicate piano and exquisite saxophone perfect foils for the tender voice.
Similarly, Christmas Morning and The First Noel have that picture book feel, and you can almost smell the crisp pine of the tree, see the twinkling, coloured lights, hear the crackling fire and feel the excitement of children waiting for Santa to arrive.
Luckily, the reassuring promise that Santa Claus Is Coming To Town comes next, the number full of swing and life but done with enough of a lightness of touch to let it breathe and not get bogged down in too many bells and whistles.
One of the highlights of the album, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, tones things down further. Tremonti’s vocal is warm, intimate and almost sensual in its delivery as it reaches both heart and head in equal measure. The pace picks up again with Let It Snow, adding more swing and bounce before O Holy Night hits a sublime peak, the stunning arrangement, beautiful strings and swelling emotion are enough to leave you breathless.
After all this glorious nostalgia, the new track This Christmas sweeps in like a bright and jazzy dawn of a fresh day, its modernity a feel-good rebirth whilst retaining traditional elements and dovetailing nicely into all that came before, a future classic in the making.
Released through Tremonti’s Take A Chance For Charity organization, supporting the National Down Syndrome Society, Christmas Classics New & Old not only sounds good but does good too.
An album filled with a genuine soul and love, this is just wonderful.