Review: The Good Lovelies, “Evergreen”

Good Lovelies - Evergreen

No matter what musical tastes you may have within the loosely defined folk-roots genre, one of your favorite artists has probably embraced the festive season and released a Christmas album at some point in their career. Yes, we have Blue Rodeo’s “A Merrie Christmas to You” in our collection, and very much enjoyed the “A Week in December” Christmas release from Ian Foster & Nancy Hynes last year. And we hear of bands, such as the Skydiggers, hosting annual festive-themed concerts to coincide with the Christmas holidays, and of course, The Good Lovelies, who not only released their “Under The Mistletoe” album in 2009, but are once again embarking on a holiday concert tour here in late 2019. Yes, if you’re a fan of this brand of Canadian music, it’s a fair assumption that a modern Christmas album has found its way into your lives and homes too.

At any given moment, another Christmas album could be announced, yet we frequently see that this is something usually undertaken just once by most artists. Without seeking guidance from a popular internet search engine, I cannot recall if any particular artist has repeated such a venture; at least until now. Yes, you heard me correctly – a second Christmas album titled “Evergreen” is being released today by The Good Lovelies, bringing yuletide greetings and holiday joy to us once more since their original holiday album from a decade ago. Reacquainting myself with “Under The Mistletoe” during my commute this week, I must confess that although it felt odd to be immersing myself in Christmas music this soon, my fingers instinctively tapped happily against the steering wheel.

Thanks to the stunning three-part harmonies from Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough, and Sue Passmore, and their preservation of the classic holiday sound, I enjoyed once more their selection of timeless Christmas tunes and their three original compositions. Performing in a style more akin to The Andrews Sisters than modern-day pop performances (love ‘em or hate ‘em), while this trio remain respectful to the vocal delivery, it is the diverse choice of instrumentation that adds their own unique flair. From the smooth jazz sounds of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” to the harmonica and twanging guitar laced version of “Blue Christmas,” The Good Lovelies are both respectful and creative in making these songs their own. And don’t forget their slow, stunning version of “Auld Lang Syne,” complete with the brief reprise that increases the tempo dramatically and ends as a perfect party piece. A few spins of this earlier album and I was ready for this second chapter titled “Evergreen.”

The Good Lovelies are not straying too far from the formula that made the first holiday album such a success, opting to share a selection of covers, whilst introducing three original compositions once again. And having teased us with their recent single releases, “Three Christmas Nights” (original) and “Little Saint Nick” (Beach Boys cover), this album will perfectly complement your holiday music collection. “This year marks not only our 13th anniversary but also the 10th anniversary of our Christmas album,” the trio shares. “To celebrate, we recorded a follow-up. It has so many of our favourite winter and holiday songs from the past several years, and showcases a band of amazing musicians we are delighted to call friends.” The list of supporting musicians reads like a ‘who’s who’ of renowned household names, and includes Robbie Grunwald, Steve Zsirai, Christine Bougie and Drew Jurecka, to name a few.

Opening with a beautiful 36 second original vocal harmony titled “What Could It Be,” the trio introduce “The Garland,” another original that sounds like a classic, and had me checking the liner notes to confirm that it was indeed one of their own. It is impossible to ignore what the trio have done with “Little Saint Nick,” perfectly capturing the upbeat essence of The Beach Boys, complete with some added backing vocals and some great rollicking piano keys to make this an essential addition to the collection. It is just as difficult to not keep hitting ‘repeat’ when encountering their beautiful rendition of “Jingle Bells,” with those great harmonies merrily bouncing off the stunning upright bass, courtesy of Steve Zsirai. Be sure also to check out “Jing-A-Ling, Jing-A-Ling,” for an ‘almost Mary Poppins’ experience (lovely fast tempo and ‘old-time’ sound), and of course, their great interpretations of both “(Everyboy’s Waitin’ for) The Man with the bag” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”

With “Evergreen,” The Good Lovelies will have you dancing in the aisles (party, church, grocery store – it doesn’t matter) with these great traditional and original tunes. And please ignore my earlier statement about it being too early for Christmas music. I find myself unable to stop playing these new tunes here in mid November, and will easily return to the album in the spring, summer, and autumn too. Because while most festive albums are best experienced during the correct season, when it comes to the amazing talents of The Good Lovelies, the rule book can be tossed out. So go ahead, pick up a copy of this stunning new album today, and keep it playing for the next several months in your home or car too.

Martin Noakes

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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