Think it’s too early to listen to Christmas music?

Well, I suppose it doesn’t really matter what you think at this point.  Because you can’t stop me.  No one can.  Virtually or otherwise.  Because I’ve already been listening to Christmas music all day today anyway.  And I’ll do it again tomorrow.  Just in time for the release of Fernando Ortega’s Christmas Songs (Curb).

This is a wonderful, soothing, piano-based collection to listen to should you be zipping around at work, stuck in traffic in the car, firing up some chili in the kitchen or hosting a low-key holiday affair. 

Now I’ve haven’t seen hide nor hare from Ortega in a while, so I was pleased to find this Christmas Songs project cross my desk recently. And once again, he teams up with longtime co-producer/collaborator John Andrew Schreiner to produce another outstanding collection—this time featuring ten Christmas carols. 

All of the familiar tunes are here:

“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”
“Joy to the World”
“Go Tell It on the Mountain”
“What Child Is This?”
“Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella”
“O Little Town of Bethlehem”
“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”
“Angels We Have Heard on High”

There’s also an original tune that bona fide Ortega fans will recognize from earlier recorded projects:

“Jesus, King of Angels”

And then finally, there’s an unusual, but traditional, Catalonian carol.  And the only reason I know this one is that I have performed it myself (in a chorus) before at Christmastime.  It has a lovely and haunting melody, but on Christmas Songs it is only instrumental (piano, cello):

“Carol of the Birds”

Fans of James Taylor, Jackson Browne or any other folksy singer-songwriter with an emphasis on “mellow” will enjoy this Christmas project from Ortega.

What I appreciate most is that each track is sacred music.  Nary a holly berry, a wassail or a jingle bell is to be heard (that is, if holly berries and wassail made some noise).  But seriously, there’s just something about keeping a collection pure and true to the real—and life-giving—meaning of Christmas that I really appreciate. 

And then when I’m ready for the secondary (faux) meaning of Christmas (i.e. Santa & Co.), I can always break out my retro Goodyear Tires' Great Songs of Christmas muzak.  Remember those old LPs?  Goodyear and good times!

But in the meantime, be sure to check out Fernando Ortega’s Christmas Songs.  It will make a nice, understated addition to your holiday music collection.


For full reviews of other new holiday projects, please visit Crosswalk's Music Channel.