Friday, December 19, 2014

THE TAYLOR SWIFT HOLIDAY COLLECTION


Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released her self-titled debut album in 2006.  It included the hits ‘Tim McGraw’, ‘Teardrops on my Guitar’, and ‘Our Song’.  In 2008 she returned with FEARLESS and the hits ‘Love Story’ and ‘You Belong with Me’.  Taylor grew up on a Christmas tree farm so appropriately her next release was THE TAYLOR SWIFT HOLIDAY COLLECTION (2009, Big Machine Records).  It was produced by Nathan Chapman.  In the liner notes Taylor writes: “I want to thank God for all the blessings He’s given me this past year, and every year before that.  I want to thank my family for all the quirky Christmas memories we’ve collected over the years”.

‘Last Christmas’ was originally written and produced by Wham! member George Michael and released in 1984.  Taylor performs a light country-pop version of this song about heartbreak and longing: “Last Christmas I gave you my heart/But the very next day you gave it away/This year to save me from tears/I’ll give it to someone special.../Merry Christmas/I wrapped it up and sent it/With a note saying ‘I love you’/I meant it/Now I know what a fool I’ve been/But if you kissed me now I know you’d fool me again”.  ‘Christmases When You Were Mine’ is a pretty country ballad penned by Swift, Liz Rose, and Nathan Chapman.  It reminds us that the holidays can be difficult for many: “I’ve been doing fine without you, really/Up until the nights got cold/Everybody’s here except you, baby/Seems like everyone’s got someone to hold/But for me it’s just a lonely time/Cause there were Christmases when you were mine”.

‘Santa Baby’ was originally recorded by Eartha Kitt with Henri Rene and his orchestra in New York City in July 1953.  Swift’s version has an old country twang to it and finds Nathan Chapman and Heidi Beall on harmony vocals.  It includes these playful lyrics: “Come and trim my Christmas tree/With some decorations bought at Tiffany’s/I really do believe in you/Let’s see if you believe in me/Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ring/And I don’t mean on the phone/Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight”.  On ‘Silent Night’ Taylor plays with the melody to good effect, breathing new life into a holiday classic.  It includes these reverent lyrics: “Silent night, holy night/Son of God/Love’s pure light/Radiant beams from Thy holy face/With the dawn of redeeming grace/Jesus Lord at Thy birth (2x)/Halleluia (3X)/Christ the Savior is born”. 

Swift is the lone writer of the next offering ‘Christmas Must Be Something More’.  This upbeat country number reminds us just why we celebrate Christmas: “We get so caught up in all of it/Business and relationships/100 mile an hour lives/And it’s this time of year/And everybody’s here/It seems the last thing on your mind/It’s that the day holds something special/Something holy, not superficial/So here’s to Jesus Christ who saved our lives/It’s something we all try to ignore/And put a wreath up on your door/But here’s something you should know that is for sure/Christmas must be something (2X)/Christmas must be something more”.  The first performance of Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’ was by Bing Crosby on his NBC radio show ‘The Kraft Music Hall’ on Christmas Day in 1941.  Here the song is countrified and decidedly sentimental: “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas/Just like the ones I used to know/Where the treetops glisten and children listen/To hear sleighbells in the snow/I’m dreaming of a white Christmas/With every Christmas card I write/May your days be merry and bright/And may all your Christmases be white”.

This six song holiday EP should, in my humble opinion, be in everyone’s music collection.  Taylor Swift is my favorite female vocalist of all time!  The arrangements of the songs presented here are lovely.  Instruments used include guitars, dobro, mandolin, fiddle, and bass.  Nick Buda, who also appears on the latest Newsboys album HALLELUJAH FOR THE CROSS, plays drums here.  The photos of Taylor included with this project are simply stunning and tasteful.  I’m rating THE TAYLOR SWIFT HOLIDAY COLLECTION 90%.  Visit Taylor’s official website at www.taylorswift.com.