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Katie Garibaldi

Home Sweet Christmas

Review by Gary Hill

I received this last year after our December issue had already been published. It never makes a lot of sense to me to review holiday music after Christmas, so it's been sitting and awaiting review this whole time. Well, let me just say that you shouldn't come here looking for a lot of well-known holiday classics. Instead, this is mostly built around tracks that you won't find in your holiday collection. The music here is quite country music oriented, but it's mostly a flavoring rather than a landscape on a lot of the songs. You'll also find pop music, soul, jazz and more built into this collection. It's an effective set of music that all centers some way around the holiday.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

 

Track by Track Review
Happy Married Christmas
A slow moving acoustic guitar concept that is almost bluesy serves as the backdrop here. Jingling bells and other elements fill out the arrangement. This is a fun number that has some hints of country along with plenty of pop music.
Star in the East

A mellower and quite intricate sound makes the start of this. The tune has less energy than the opener did, but doesn't lose any charm. There is more country in the mix this time.

Jesus Touched My Heart
A high energy cut, this has a lot of funk and jazz built into it. The backing vocals lend a cool soulful edge. While this isn't really my kind of thing, it's a lot of fun.
Unhappy Holiday
This is very much a down-home old school country song. It has slide guitar and mournful vocals. The whole arrangement feels like something that would have been at home on the radio in the South in the 1940s.
The Times I Love the Most (California Christmas)
A bouncy number, this has a lot of 1970s California sound. Of course, with that parenthetical to the title, what do you expect. The guitar brings a bit of twang at times, and there are hints of country. Then again, that 70s California sound had a healthy helping of country at play, too.
Wonderful Mother Mary

A slower moving number, this is packed with power in the arrangement. The vocal performance is among the best of the set. There is a good balance here between mellower sounds and more powered up ones. This piece really soars at times.

Love on Christmas Day
Slow moving country music is the order of business here. The slide guitar brings some real old-school charm. This is another tune that would have fit well in the 1940s.
Holy Spirit in My Heart
There is plenty of bluegrass in this cut. It's a high energy tune that's a lot of fun. I love the violin on this cut.
Safe and Warm (Lullaby for Jesus)
Mellow, slower acoustic guitar work opens this track. The backing vocals bring a lot of magic to this. While this still has plenty of country built into it, other things like soul and jazz are part of the arrangement. I love the more rocking movements. They are powerful.
Tomorrow Is Christmas Morning
A balladic cut, this starts mellower and gradually gets more involved. There are hints of country music built into this, but there are plenty of other things, too. The strings bring a symphonic edge later in the track. This is one of the standouts for me. It has a real timeless sound to it.
Our Home Awaits Us
Acoustic guitar and voice makes up the arrangement as this track starts. That holds it for the first verse with some other elements adding just a little flavor (without really changing the musical concept) as it works forward. This is arguably the mellowest track here, landing firmly in the ballad zone. That said, after the four minute mark it turns out to something more like folk rock with an energized and driving reworking of the musical elements of the piece.
Silent Night
An acoustic guitar based arrangement of the holiday classic, strings bring a lot of magic to this. The cut works very well and is one of my favorites here. It's particularly pretty and poignant.
 
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