Essential Advent Calendar: Hanson Say ‘Finally It’s Christmas’ With New Album And UK Shows
Currently on their ‘Middle Of Everywhere World Tour’ and on the back of their ‘Greatest Hits’ release, Hanson have just released their new Christmas album, ‘Finally It’s Christmas’ on 3CG Records/S-Curve Records). The pop-rock trio will follow this with a number of special holiday concerts in Toronto, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, before heading to the UK where they’ll be performing at O2 Ritz Manchester.
‘Finally It’s Christmas’ features four original tracks and eight updated classics, and brings back the trio with S-Curve President, Steve Greenberg, who originally signed them to Mercury Records back in 1996. Also on board is co-producer and writing Mark Hudson, who collaborated on the band’s 1997 Christmas release, ‘Snowed In’. Additionally, mixing on the title and select other tracks has been done by Tom Lord-Alge, known for his work with U2, Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones, and The Wallflowers.
The album opens with the title track, starting off with a record player scratchy sound leading into a nostalgia-laden song with a Beach Boys-style harmony. It’s the perfect start, setting the listener up for what lays ahead. The guys have released a great video to go with the song, which features “then” and “now” footage:
Track 2 is a lovely treatment of Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmas Time’. Much more upbeat than the original, the close sibling harmonies for which Hanson are known are what dominate this lovely and fun track.
Another original track, ‘Til New Years Night’ channels the spirits of Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry with the fast paced rock’n’roll piano and guitar. It segues nicely into the 60s classic, ‘Please Come Home’, with strong vocals, and again, very pleasing backing harmonies. Rather than taking the purely sentimental route that would be so easy to do with such a well-known Christmas song, they’ve given it a rocking and raucous arrangement that gets everyone swinging.
A beautiful cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Someday At Christmas’, could easily have been sung by Wonder himself, while ‘Joy To The Mountain’, a medley of ‘Go Tell It On The Mountain’ and ‘Joy To The World’ takes us to Church and visions of the guys leading the worship, with their signature three part harmonies rising to the forefront. This is easily our favourite on the album.
Nostalgia a-plenty and a super-cute tinkly piano characterise ‘Jingle Bells’, which features the voices of children in the Beatles-esque chorus, while ‘All I Want For Christmas’ is as far from Mariah Carey as anyone could imagine – high-tempo, strong vocals, no sentimentality at all. The same can be said for ‘Winter Wonderland’, which is strong and punchy, and should feature on everyone’s Christmas playlist this year (it will definitely feature on ours).
‘Blue Christmas’ takes the Elvis standard and gives it the Hanson treatment – high energy, effusive vocals and harmonies, and cowbells as a nice festive touch.
‘Peace On Earth’, is strong and earnest, with the lyrics striving hard to convey the true meaning of Christmas, with the trio’s vocals merging as one.
Last track, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ features Isaac on lead vocals with his brothers backing. It’s just as perfect an ending as ‘Finally It’s Christmas’ was the opener. Poignant, stirring, and intimate, it closes as it started, with scratchy vinyl sounds.