First submission of 2016! Come hear about Kerry Patrick Clark’s wonderful new holiday album, The Heart of Christmas!
The first submission for review of the year has set a mighty high standard for those that follow…
Several weeks ago, I got an email from Kerry Patrick Clark, announcing a new Christmas CD, offering a chance to hear it early. Now, I must admit I didn’t know Kerry Patrick Clark, but when your pedigree includes the New Christy Minstrels, then I sit up and take notice. There was a really nice bio and some details about the album, but the write-up seemed far too good to be true: talking about trying to songs grappling with issues of war and loss while maintaining a sense of humour and heart? Acknowledging the inherent conflicting emotions most Christmas albums try to cover? These are things I long for, but barely see addressed. It really had me thinking that this was an album I wanted to hear, hoping it would live up to the hype.
(I included the press release below, because that’s what got me excited about the album.)
So, Did It Live Up To The Hype…?
And it didn’t disappoint. The album is sincere, intimate, moving… and with a healthy dose of humour and lightness. I listen to a lot of Christmas albums – A Lot – and this one wowed me with it’s freshness and immediacy. Sure, I was already smack-dab in the cross-hairs of who this album was aimed at, but I’ve heard many an album aim at that territory, and miss for one reason or another. This one doesn’t miss.
I started listening to this album three days ago and it’s been on almost constant repeat since. Soon it will have to make way for other things, but it will be staying on the Christmas pile for the rest of the season I’m sure. And returning in coming years. It’s fun, it’s charming, it has heart, and it’s good music.
The press release listed other artists people might compare Kerry Patrick Clark to, people like John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, James Taylor, Kenny Loggins, David Wilcox and John Gorka. Lofty competition, but yes, I see it all. I’d second that list, but I’d also add Steven Curtis Chapman in there, and Tom Lehrer too. High praise in my book.
D’uh. I Like It. A Lot.
So clearly I enjoyed this album immensely, am still enjoying it immensely. If you were to ask my favourite track? I’d have a really hard time narrowing it down. If you asked the track I liked least, I’d be similarly bumfuzzled, since I like them all. They’re really enjoyable, and I find myself humming along to most of them. I love that there’s a take on the British and German ceasefire of 1914… (My Dear Sister Janet). There is so much great material to mine for Christmas songs, and I love that this albums makes efforts to reach out and add more than just the usual corny sentiments. There’s real heart in the songwriting of this album.
I was a bit leery when I saw that family members were singing on a couple of tracks. We can all think of examples where that doesn’t go nearly as well as the artists intended, but it works here. Fits the vibe and sounds good. Phew! Fruitcake Round is a particularly effective example.
I suspect every artist doing a Christmas album hopes they can craft a tune worthy of adding to the yuletide lexicon, and I think these do, and that’s impressive with so many new additions. Even the songs we’ve heard a zillion times get reworked and updated to be something we’d not seen before. Blending Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Angels We Have Heard On High comes off like they always belonged together. It’s a wonderful mix of the familiar and the new, with a consistent musically which allows you to acknowledge or ignore that fact as your mood dictates. Put it on as a great sounding Christmas album in the background, or put it on and listen intently. Both efforts will be rewarded.
Clearly I have a few good things to say about this album, hope it’s not annoying, all this praise, but I’m really enjoying it.
So, I didn’t know who Kerry Patrick Clark was, but I’ve since ordered more of his albums off iTunes. Heck if this album ever comes out on vinyl, I’ll buy another copy. I’m hoping others will discover this album and the great tunes it has for this and future Christmases. I hope it finds an audience, it certainly deserves to. So, check it out, and if you like it, tell a friend: reward the people making Christmas music worth hearing.
Find out more about Kerry Patrick Clark here: http://www.kerrypatrickclark.com/
[A CD was provided by the artist, but not in exchange for anything. I love receiving submissions, and encourage anyone with an album they’d like to share to contact me, but nothing is promised in return. I love sharing good albums, but all reviews are genuine, all opinions are my own.]