Christmas albums - love them or hate them they exist. For Guy Sherman, he had his mind set on making a Christmas album for the last couple of years but whenever the idea popped into his head it was always too late. This year he thought about the idea in February and ended up with a thirteen-song album entitled Yule Hear What I Hear.” Sherman goes through all the classics including songs like “Silent Night,” “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” and well you get the idea. He flirts with a number of different styles such as rock, jazz and electronic. If I had to sum it up in a word I would say “mechanical.” I don’t mean that in bad way so let me explain. The music is in perfect time, devoid of human error and in some ways bears similarities to what some would call elevator music. Take for instance “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.” which revolves around electronic drum beat where the hi hat basically acts a metronome.
I would argue that Yule Hear What I Hear might be a stroke of genius. Think about it. When do you hear Christmas songs? For the most of us it’s in shopping mall, Starbucks, or a relative’s Christmas party. For these occasions you don’t want Christmas music that is overbearing, grandiose and getting in the way of delightful conversation between you and that uncle you only see once a year. You want to feel that Christmas spirit but not get knocked over the head with it. The point is that Yule Hear What I Hear is able to translate these classic songs in a meaningful way but also excels at serving them up when they are mostly likely called for.
Yule Hear What I Hear is a case of hit play and enjoy. That being said there were a couple of songs that Sherman knocks out of the park. Sherman does a version of “Here Comes Santa Claus / Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which revolves around sparse percussion and vocals while one of my personal favorites “Carol Of The Bells” is quite effective. “She’s Mrs. Claus” is done with a jazz style swing but the highlight was “The Christmas Waltz Medley.” Five songs in one how can you beat that?
So is Yule Hear What I Hear the end to all Christmas albums? No. Will it make you finally be able to tolerate another banal conversation with Auntie Karen? Probably not. Is it worth playing at your next Christmas themed work party? I’d say yes.
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