Holiday Special EP Review: Alanna Matty – Chestnuts Snow and Mistletoe

December 24, 2013

a3130228041_2Title: Chestnuts Snow and Mistletoe
Artist: Alanna Matty
Record Label: Independent
Date: December 2013
In One Word: Festivus

I once read something along the lines of “It’s nearly Christmas – time for not a single artist to put out an original album”. To an extent, this is the truth when it comes to the holidays. Artists take the favourite and instantly recognizable tunes and remake them to fit whichever genre their music falls under.

Indie musicians face the challenge of not only getting exposure, but to create something different and interesting that will pique the interest of listeners.

Indie musician, Alanna Matty has risen to the great challenge – create an interesting and unique indie Christmas album. Within five tracks, Matty has an established sound that she mixes up from song to song between traditional hymns like Silent Night and more contemporary classics such as Winter Wonderland.

Whether you’re home for the holidays or walking in the winter wonderland of Toronto right now, Matty’s Christmas EP brings warmth to conquer the chilly days before Christmas.

Exploring Through The Songs

1. Winter Wonderland

A true Christmas classic. Musician Felix Bernard and lyricist Richard B. Smith originally wrote Winter Wonderland in 1934. Throughout the years over 150 difference artists have recorded it in many renditions.

Matty has kept the integrity to the song by keeping it simple and raw with just an acoustic guitar and her flawless voice. The guitar beat is such a smooth loop but surprisingly it’s enough to bring that Christmas cheer while sippin’ on some hot cocoa by the fireplace. In just a short one minute and 35 seconds rendition time – the holiday spirit and joy is instantly filled joyously with this first track.

2. Silent Night

In my childhood memories of singing Christmas songs in elementary and high school concerts, Silent Night was always my least favourite tune. There was always something about that slow and monotone sound that turned me off. However, Matty was capable of changing that entirely with this rendition.

If there’s one song to check out from this Chestnuts Snow and Mistletoe holiday album it’s this one, for sure! For a lot of independent musicians these days (even the mainstream artists in the top 40 charts) it seems like artists count on too much on their band and lack when it comes to the singing. The voice is a great instrument however, an artist needs to master and train it well in order for it to be able to succeed in all ranges and, of course, make sure being pitchy is avoided.

Matty’s acapella version of Silent Night is godly. Less than two minutes of endless chills ran down my body when hearing the impeccable harmonies and that pure, warm felt voice. Go listen, close your eyes, and just take in the beauty.

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Matty live and she still never ceases to amaze me. Those ranges though, and high notes are just, wow, breathtaking. This is my favourite track by far in the whole holiday album and in any holiday album for that matter. Speechless.

3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

This is a song I can see vividly playing in the background while gathering around with family and friends laughing and talking around a delicious and huge Christmas feast. It’s a very subtle and calm track that brings out that perfect warm feeling inside we all get around the holiday season.

Aside from Michael Buble’s orchestral version of the song, Matty’s simplicity on her rendition is refreshing. Her guitar melodies, unblemished vocals and meek piano chords heard in the background are quite nice and highly enjoyable.

4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

This is a song I’m sure many remember singing at more than one grade school Christmas pageant while parents waved from behind camcorders. Today, parents wave from behind iPhones, but the song remains the same and this instantly recognizable song probably resonates for a couple of reasons.

Matty takes the classic Christmas tune and transforms it into a ukulele-clad crooner, complete with delicate backing vocals to provide harmonies, giving it that extra dimension it needs. Her style is technically proficient without lacking heart. Rearranging a traditional hymnal sung for hundreds of years, Matty doesn’t just let the song itself do the talking, she makes it her own and gives it its own spark with her individual style.

This song would fit perfectly on the playlist of the indie music lover, enjoying a warm cup of hot cocoa, or a cold glass of eggnog on Christmas morning.

5. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire (The Christmas Song)

This song is a personal favourite of mine. Every Christmas I can remember, some of my fondest memories included The Christmas Song.

Matty starts off with a slow, wistful opening to set the mood just before turning the song around into a happy, up-tempo number. She keeps it simple with just her one voice without harmony, but for a song that has been re-mastered in so many different ways, sometimes simple is best. It allows for the crisp clarity of Matty’s voice to shine through.

While I grew up listening to all the many different versions of this song, Matty certainly does this Christmas classic justice.

After hearing this beautiful holiday album it’s time for us to go back to peaking through our living room door while waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney, take a bite of the warm chocolate chip cookie left out and place our gifts ever so gently under the Christmas tree.

Until then, we leave you with the words of Johnny from the classic Home Alone 2 film, “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal, and a Happy New Year!”

©  Megan Rach and Jessica Paiva, Music Vice

Internet link:
Alanna Matty

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