“A cappella Holiday Classics” is the latest release from acclaimed musical group “The Accidentals” headed up by Margaret Dorn. The group has certainly been busy no doubt with a string of releases of their near 30 years of activity, ranging from Beatles covers to even a previous Christmas compilation in the form of “An Accidental Christmas”. Now we find the group returning to old stomping ground with plenty of wonderful flourishes both in execution and production over the course of this stuffed 30 track release. Just a quick aside that if Christmas music isn’t your jam for any particular reason ranging from personal beliefs to just detesting the genre (there’s a lot of scrooges out there), I understand and I’d hope the latter group would still give this album a shot because from a musical standpoint, it’s kind of outstanding.
MARGARET DORN: https://margaretdornsongs.com/an-accidental-christmas/
Starting with a front half jam packed with crowd pleasers from “Deck the Hall”, “Carol of the Bells” “Frosty the Snowman” and more (seriously, I cannot stress enough that there are so many tracks on here), the atmosphere is upright and perky, the placement of each track seamlessly blending into the next. I think it’s rather deliberate that the front half is more busy and filled with bouncy like with “I’m Not Going Home for Christmas” or the iconic “Jingle Bells”, because it seems perfectly fitting for a social outing whether driving or celebrating with friends and family. Things crescendo with a fantastic rousing performance of “Joy to the World” followed up by an astonishing almost encore with a medley of other iconic tunes.
Right after that though, the album takes a noticeable turn for the more somber and introspective. More emphasis on the spirituality and atmosphere with back to back tracks like “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “O Tannenbaum” which I’m just going to call the “O Trilogy”. It feels a lot like a sort of winding down and cuts more to the heart of Christmas and its sentiments of “peace on earth” yada yada. Big props to it not just aiming for slower methodical pieces, but more jazzy ensembles like “The Christmas Song ” and even closer and the rare song to feature a backing track “Winter in Manhattan ”. It might sound like over-appreciation to discuss track placement on a Christmas album, but I ask you: how would you feel to go from “Frosty the Snowman ” straight to “Joy to the World ”.
THE ACCIDENTALS: https://www.singers.com/group/Accidentals/
Kind of a huge difference if you ask me. This is also an album that deserves the utmost respect when it comes to speaker play. Yes you can really bask in every syllable with headphones on as I’m sure it’d make a great soundtrack to the mad dash of shopping, but on a surround sound you truly feel the weight of each performance which expertly captures the live ambience you’d see in a communal gathering. While there were a few tracks that I wouldn’t want to revisit, it’s only out of a dislike of the original song, not the performance. “A cappella Holiday Classics” is a gift worth the wait.