October 26, 2018 Ingrid Michaelson – Songs For The Season (Album Review)
Don’t look now, but the holiday season is just around the corner! Sometimes it is a daunting thought, due to the stresses of finding all their friends and family presents, or just pondering the idea that another year is ending. That in mind, often we forget about the magic of this special time of year where people decorate their homes in bright, colorful lights, gather together for family dinners and parties, but most of all, build memories.
New York born and raised Singer-Songwriter Ingrid Michaelson holds a special place in her heart for holiday season. Having fond memories growing up surrounded by Christmas festivities, like many of us, her holiday spirit took a major hit after losing both her parents in consecutive years.
Easily something that could making the talented performer cynical and turn her back on any sort of positivity, after her father’s passing, she harnessed her emotions into creativity, penning the song “Happy Happy Christmas.” Now three years removed, the original holiday song sees the light of day on Michaelson’s latest Christmas themed record, Songs For The Season, due out Friday, October 26, 2018 via Cabin 24 Records.
Having sustained a lengthy career as a writer and performer, Michaelson has been hard at work for over fifteen years. Paving her own path as an independent artist, she would gain a mass of attention via the internet world. Finding her music breaking through to the mainstream, since her self-released debut, each of her albums have found their way to peak positions on US charts. Making a name for herself among an even more broad audience, thanks to the Top 10 2014 hit “Girls Chase Boys,” Michaelson continues along a prolific musical path, challenging herself as a writer and excelling in every way.
With Songs For The Season, her first proper full-length holiday LP, and a follow-up to the 2017 holiday EP Snowfall, she finds herself engaging audiences on a whole new level. To many, Christmas songs are one of two things – an annoyance, because they are played constantly on radio from before Thanksgiving until Christmas, or a happy and enthusiastic experience. That said, many Pop and Rock artists have put together Christmas albums through the years, so what is there really left to offer? Well aware of that very fact, Michaelson opted to take a different route, well not entirely different, but let us say more traditional.
Where some modern artists try to add some new flair to Christmas classics, Michaelson decided to stick to the original sounds, the ones which we all remember from childhood that still resonate inside of us. She does not try to reinvent the wheel here, but instead flawlessly transports us back in time to a safe place where snow is falling, Christmas lights are strung along every house in the neighborhood, and people seemingly came together. In realitiy we all know that every era is not as rosy and perfect as a film or pictures may make it out to be, but this is more about our own personal memories in our own lives when everything seemed a bit more comfortable, warm, and inviting then it is today. In a nutshell, this sense of ‘soul security’ is the sentiment that Michaelson wonderfully captures with Songs For The Season.
So what does the album have as far as tracks recorded? Classic standards of course. There is big band feel of “Looks Like A Cold, Cold Winter,” subtle strings of “White Christmas,” with a guest spot from Christina Perri, “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and beautiful collaboration with Will Chase on “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” The first five songs on the record, Michaelson’s voice is both soft, smooth, and feels like, well, home. Thereafter comes the aforementioned original tune “Happy, Happy Christmas” where Michaelson takes her sorrow of lose and reminds us to take nothing for granted and embrace the ones we love any chance we have.
Picking up on the second half of the record, there are more delightful takes on well-known Christmas favorites including “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve,” a fun-filled “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” with an appearance from the distinctive voice of Grace VanderWaal, the tropical Christmas standout “Mele Kalikimaka,” featuring both Allie Moss and Bess Rogers, as well as tear-jerking, haunting “Christmas Time Is Here.” Then, Michaelson takes the more modern Mariah Carey Christmas hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and gives it an old fashion sheen with the help of Leslie Odom Jr., before concluding the album perfectly with the age-old New Year’s Eve Folk song “Auld Lang Syne.”
With so much uncertainty in the world, as well as division amongst us all, isn’t it nice to take a break from the chaos and decompress? That is exactly what Ingrid Michaelson offers listeners with Songs For The Season. Her approach is so magically soothing, it almost reassures us that somehow, everything will be alright – no matter what we are going through on a personal level or dealing with as venom continues to be spewed on daily basis through multi-media outlets. A collection of Holiday music that should be added to everyone’s collection, CrypticRock gives Songs For The Season 5 out of 5 stars.