Holiday Single Releases From Pedersen & Peterson

Holiday Singles

New music releases for the holidays have been arriving in droves here at Team GDW over the last few weeks.  Of course, as much as we would love to share them all, limited time and space means that only a few make it here onto our pages.  Following the holiday single that we brought you from Catherine MacLellan earlier this month, we are doubling down today with these fabulous festive treats from a pair of “Pete’s” – Kristian Noel Pedersen, and Melanie Peterson.

Kristian Noel Pedersen (ft. The Currie Brothers), “Pack Your Bags”

Pack your bags we’re heading out / I really want to see some snow this Christmas / Taking the 400 to ’11 for the first time since last year.”  While known to many for his synth contributions on several recent releases from Toronto’s Shawn William Clarke, Kristian Noel Pedersen has also earned quite the reputation for putting out original holiday-themed solo albums on an annual basis.  Indeed, as we venture into this 2021 holiday season, Kristian is unleashing his fourteenth holiday album upon the world.  And as the first single from his latest project, “Pack Your Bags” finds Pedersen drawing influences from both Low’s “Christmas” album and the popular Chris Rea single, “Driving Home For Christmas.”

From the first spin, I’m detecting some definite Simon and Garfunkel influences in the sound and style, and maybe hints of fellow Ontarians, Summersets, too.  Recorded at Curries Music in Gravenhurst, ON, Kristian (vocals/acoustic guitar/Wurlitzer 200A/sleigh bells) takes delight in having The Currie Brothers join him on the studio floor, with Rob Currie on lead guitar and Andrew Currie on drums; bassist Mike McDonnell and backing vocalists Alex Mason and Jessi Pigeon rounding out this ensemble.  “It’s a song about the excitement of driving home for Christmas,” Kristian shares. “Having the Currie’s feature was a perfect fit as they’re literally on the drive north to my hometown of North Bay.”

The tempo of this single remains very upbeat, and for me, prompts fond thoughts of taking that drive north on the 400 from Toronto into Barrie, and then leaving the highway to head out into cottage country.  Andrew’s brushing of the drums conjures images of miles passing by whilst meandering between lakes and forests, with those thoughts of being so close to home accentuated by Rob’s final vintage guitar rings that bounce around in the speakers.  Punching out of work, leaving the city for a while, and going home for the holidays is a beautiful thing – the concept captured vividly here by Pedersen and his ensemble. “Pack your bags into the car so high that you can hardly see behind you / Guided by the red lights leaving town you can see them through the mirror / You always used to say you felt at home passing landmarks on the highway / But ever year I’m recognizing less I swear it changes every year.”

Melanie Peterson, “May I Have Your Midnight”

Having enjoyed Kristian’s ode to going home for the holidays, Toronto folk-pop singer Melanie Peterson turns her attention to the final part of the season – the moments where we count down the hours to midnight, before breaking into a collective round of Auld Lang Syne.  Of course, this does not mean that Melanie is choosing to focus on closure, nor is she seeking to start anew as the New Year arrives – instead, discovering that for this particular artist, this is a time to reflect on the special and cherished things in life. “It’s about new love and is special because it’s about New Year’s Eve and a huge moment in any romantic relationship,” she shares. “That first NYE together as a couple.”

As a songwriter, Peterson is no stranger to bringing themes of love and romance to her compositions – as we discovered when reviewing her 2020 “We Got This” EP – and wrote this holiday themed single back in the summer in the Beaches area of the city.  If there are any rulebooks out there about crafting holiday themed music during times of sunshine, sand, and soaring temperatures, I’m sure such publications are likely found in the murky depths of Lake Ontario right about now.  “I love this song,” she shares eagerly. “I think it is bravely romantic lyrically, and I’m enchanted by the shimmer and magic [that] producer Derek Downham gave to the recording.”  

The JUNO-Award winning producer Derek Downham (The Beauties, Sarah Burton, Amanda Rheaume) is no stranger to us here at GDW, and not only produced, but engineered and mixed this single at The Half Nelson Room Studio in Toronto.  Equally gifted on either side of the soundboard, Derek also provides the instrumentation here – from his outstanding contribution on piano and upright bass, to guitar, glockenspiel, and even those jingle bell rings that bounce from the speakers periodically.  “I aimed to match Melanie’s soft vocal lilt with tender instrumentation, while dancing under an ethereal parasol,” Derek recalls. “It’s cinematic and shimmering, no big drums, just a heartbeat pulse. I wanted to showcase not just a beautiful song, but a beautiful voice. I feel it worked.”

May I have your midnight / On New Year’s Eve / May your New Year’s Kiss / Be given to me / May I have your midnight / On New Year’s Eve.”  With it’s gentle pace, and Melanie’s soothing vocals (complete with some sporadic echoes for added effect), “May I Have Your Midnight” confidently checks all the boxes outlining the requirements for a true and timeless holiday song.  “It’s important for me to do a holiday single every year, since it’s such a beautiful time of year and worth celebrating in song,” Melanie adds. “My hope is that people fall in love with the song, relate to it, and add it to all their holiday playlists.”

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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