After posting a selection of holiday songs last week, we realized that we’d missed new holiday music from some of our favorite artists, so we’re taking the opportunity to highlight them today.
Oh Susanna & Michael Johnston, “After the Holidays”
On a new EP titled “Decemberly,” Oh Susanna teams up with pianist and songwriter Michael Johnston to perform new and classic holiday songs. Inspired by the Christmas parties Michael and his partner Annie host each year where friends gather around the piano to sing, Oh Susanna and Michael decided to record a mini album of songs with just piano and vocals. This collection of songs and the intimacy of the recording pays homage to albums and artists such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, “A Very She & Him Christmas,” and Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s fun interplay.
“Every year I look forward to getting out the Christmas music from the 40s, 50s and 60s,” says Suzie Ungerleider (Oh Susanna). “One January, I didn’t want to stop listening to all this good music and decided to write a song called ‘After the Holidays’ inspired by all those great Jazz and Pop crooners. I recruited my dear friend, pianist and songwriter Michael Johnston to write the lyrics with me…full of double entendres and flirtation – I even made up a word ‘Decemberly’ to describe the magical feeling of the holiday time. This year I decided it was time for me and Michael to record a mini album of holiday songs including our original ‘After the Holidays’.”
Harrow Fair, “Maybe This Christmas”
This rendition of a Ron Sexsmith classic comes to us courtesy of two of Team GDW’s favorite peeps, Miranda Mulholland and Andrew Penner (collectively known as Harrow Fair). And, given the times in which we live, what an appropriate song for them to choose:
“Maybe this Christmas will mean something more
Maybe this year
Love will appear
Deeper than ever before…”
Serena Ryder, “Blue Christmas”
This season also brings a holiday album from Serena Ryder, full of Christmas classics delivered in her own inimitable style.
Recorded in Toronto, “Christmas Kisses” was a true passion project for Ryder who infused her love of jazz into holiday classics that celebrate the spirit of the holidays. “Jazz music has always been one of my biggest vocal influencers,” says Ryder. “When I was a young girl, I would spend hours upon hours locked away in my room listening and singing to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simon and Chet Baker. It’s been a dream of mine to be able to sing an entire album in this style – and also a dream to be able to embrace the spirit of Christmas in a genuinely joyful way. I had the time of my life singing these classic songs in the style of my greatest influencers and in the company of my best friends. I hope the world feels the love we all put into this record.”
Cassie and Maggie, “The Angel Gabriel”
Cassie and Maggie’s new holiday single, “The Angel Gabriel,” captures the traditional sounds of the season with a dramatic and moving retelling of the Christmas Story.
From the deepest roots of Canada and its very earliest musical traditions come Nova Scotian sisters Cassie and Maggie, putting their own 21st century stamp on the Celtic soundtrack of this nation. Exciting and innovative, their talent is surpassed only by the sheer joy they exude in performance. Alternating between Gaelic and English, traditional and contemporary, haunting and electrifying, the duo is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Whitehorse, “Two Snowbirds”
Whitehorse puts their ‘melancholiday’ twist on the sounds of the season with “A Whitehorse Winter Classic,” a collection of new, original seasonal songs that explore the ups and downs of the holiday season. From joy and beauty to loneliness and melancholy, the JUNO Award winning duo celebrate the festive season in timeless, if bittersweet, fashion.
Photo credits: Heather Pollock (Oh Susanna & Michael Johnston), Ingrid Jones (Serena Ryder)