It’s Christmastime, and the radio airwaves and shopping mall loudspeakers are playing ‘round the clock holiday music. Of late, the old saws, songs like “Blue Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” “Silent Night,” might have been sounding a bit overplayed and dull. It seems time for some new recordings of these holiday favorites.
We can thank Meadowlark Studios and eight Vermont performers for new renditions of holiday songs this year. Owner and producer Yasmin Tayeby recorded Josh Panda, The DuPont Brothers and Dwight & Nicole in arrangements that breathe fresh air into the Christmas songbook.
Panda, a fresh voice in Vermont music, brings an exciting performance to the somewhat obscure “Baby Please Come Home,” originally sung by Darlene Love. The DuPont Brothers, Sam and Zack, based in Burlington, lend their acoustic guitars and indie-folk-rock sensibilities to “Silent Night.”
Kat Wright and Brett Hughes take the Elvis Presley classic “Blue Christmas” deeper into country music than the king of rock did. Their duo paring works well. The Stevie Wonder song from 1967, “Someday At Christmas.” has Dwight and Nicole, Burlington’s soul/folk duo, right at home stylistically on a song that isn’t played much.
Reid Parsons is introduced to us on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” with just acoustic guitar accompaniment and a new beat. This Mad River Valley native gives the song an interesting rendering.
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” gets a completely new treatment from the duo Cricket Blue, Laura Heaberlin and Taylor Smith. Rather than the classic choir voicing and rhythm, this duo imbues this very religious song with a 21st-century sensibility.
Tayeby, who is herself an accomplished singer and instrumentalist, takes the Nat King Cole standard “The Christmas Song” to a new level. While Cole’s version is always welcome, the presence of a woman’s voice adds universality to the song.
The album, all 26 minutes of it, concludes with “Joy To The World” sung by the UVM Hit Paws, the university’s a cappella co-ed singing group.
Tayeby is an interesting addition to the Vermont music world. She grew up in Egypt, learning the piano, and later voice, violin and guitar. She began writing songs at age 13. In 2006, she went to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. She became familiar with Vermont in 2007 when she was invited to play for the U.S. Rep. Peter Welch’s birthday party, where she performed Pink’s “Dear Mr. President.”
Tayeby also found minor recognition in her hometown of Cairo, where Nile FM, Egypt’s biggest radio station, showcased her song “Jane and John Doe” for two months as a Homegrown Talent. A few months later, she was invited by the station to play at the closing ceremony of the world famous Pharaoh’s Rally, which was to take place at the Pyramids of Giza.
It may be a bit late to get an actual copy of the CD, which is available at Gardener’s Supply in Williston, Shelburne Country Store, Advance Music and Adams Farm Market in Williston. But you can buy a physical CD at the CDBaby’s website, https://cdbaby.com.
If you have a Spotify account you can hear the album at https://open.spotify.com/album/6M26gbGHCkoibXfuQcoHBR.