The Music of 'Sunny Christmas'
Sunny Christmas kicks off with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," a very old song from England, having originated some time in the 1500s in the south west area of England. Renee and Jeremy give the song a Mediterranean feel, with lots of handclaps, finger cymbals, and layers of vocal harmonies. "Sunny Christmas" is a super duper Renee and Jeremy original, worthy of a Top 5 placement in the College Rock Charts. The cheerful, jingling powerpop title tune, first released last fall, will remind you of, perhaps, Belle and Sebastian, Jason Falkner, Mates of State, or Marshall Crenshaw.
"Deck the Halls" is another ancient carol, originating in Wales and also dating back to the 16th century. Renee and Jeremy give the song a light, bouncy treatment, emphasizing bell trees, acoustic guitars, and quiet percussion. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane back in 1943 for the Judy Garland movie Meet Me in St. Louis. Everyone from Frank Sinatra to Lady Antebellum, from The Muppets to The Partridge Family have recorded version of this classic, and Renee and Jeremy give us their atmospheric, but cheerful, version for the holidays.
The fancily named James Lord Pierpont composed what we know as "Jingle Bells" in 1850 and published the tune as "One Horse Open Sleigh" in 1857. Interestingly, he wrote the song as a Thanksgiving tune, not as a celebration of snowy Christmas horse rides. Renee and Jeremy's version sounds as if it could have been produced by a "feel" specialist like Daniel Lanois or Brian Eno, but with way more cheer. The same goes for "Winter Wonderland," as echoey electric guitar and distant sleigh bells accompany Renee and Jeremy's almost whispered vocals. The duo's rendition of Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith's 1934 classic is a perfect way to close out the Sunny Christmas EP.
If Christmas music lovers opened their wallets every time an indie band or artist (and especially mainstream singers or groups) put out a holiday album, they would be broke and hurting for space on their record shelves. Luckily for Yuletide fans, a few bands are much more successful at interpreting oft-heard tunes in their own distinct style. This means two things: bands win over new fans, and listeners are given a fresh interpretation of familiar songs without straying too far from familiarity. Renee and Jeremy's Sunny Christmas is a perfect example of this new wave of IndieChristmas music, giving new life to old favorites and treating us to a great self-penned composition, as well. Our only question is, where is "Little Drummer Boy," released as a single in November 2010? Renee and Jeremy's cute, acoustic rendition would have made a good addition to this collection. Having said that, though, Sunny Christmas will make a great addition to our list of New Christmas Music for Kids, and a nice little stocking stuffer for music fans of any age. And don't forget to check out the cute album art by Hsinping Pan!
Released November 13, 2012; One Melody Records
- "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
- "Sunny Christmas"
- "Deck the Halls"
- "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
- "Jingle Bells"
- "Winter Wonderland"