What do you do if your band hasn’t produced a full length project since 2004? Well if your Smalltown Poets you release a Christmas record. Will it work, will this faithful band of musical poets be launched back into the spotlight they so richly deserve? You be the judge. As for me, I’m just happy to hear more finely crafted pop tunes from of my all time favorite bands.
Smalltown Poets Christmas is a 14 song gift that keeps on giving.Sure that’s slighty cliché, but the funny thing about clichés is that they are usually dead on. From start to finish the musical magic that made me a fan back in ’97 shines through each track, shucks who am I kidding, I was a fan when they were called Villanelle.
As with all Christmas albums the musicians must somehow breathe life into songs that have been worked and re-worked year after year, and while they struggle to bring a sense of freshness to that which has been over done they must be sure to not so radically alter these beloved tunes that the fans don’t recognize them. This could explain why so many bands choose not to mess with Christmas records.
That being said, I think the Poets have done an incredible job. Striking a harmonious balance between freshness and familiarity. There is an obvious maturity, both musically and spiritually that comes through very clearly. Each track is a piece of art within itself, and each song stands alone as a thing of beauty and yet as whole they fit perfectly together to form a cohesive work.
I would say that overall this record features a different vibe for SP, but never so different you don’t feel and hear the familiar voices that are uniquely the Poets. By far this is the bands most restrained set of songs, it’s not a bad thing, as I said, it’s just different. As always Micheal’s vocals flow effortlessly from track to track, never over powering yet always there helping to evoke the emotion and sense of each song. Original member Danny Stephens returns with his masterful keyboard arrangements and unmistakable BGV’s.
Stand out tracks include the peppy and fun St Nick is Alright and the beautifully inspiring In The First Light. Out of the 14 tracks there are none that disapoint. If you need a point of reference think Third Day Christmas Offerings, or Downhere’s How Many Kings. Both are great Christmas albums as well.