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Album Review: Forever Christmas
David Lanz and Kristin Amarie
Cover image of the album Forever Christmas by David Lanz and Kristin Amarie
Forever Christmas
David Lanz and Kristin Amarie
2014 / DKL Records
46 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Forever Christmas is the first full-length collaboration by pianist/composer David Lanz and singer/songwriter Kristin Amarie. Conceived during one of the coldest and snowiest East Coast winters on record (2013/2014), the fourteen tracks feature twelve original Christmas songs plus new arrangements of “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night” that the artists dedicated to their mothers. Only three tracks are all solo piano, but two others are mostly piano with some wordless vocals and a little bit of additional instrumentation. Most of the solos are quite short, much like the “angel interludes” on Lanz’s 1994 Christmas Eve. Six are vocals with lyrics and three are instrumental ensemble pieces. David Lanz has been one of my favorite artists since the early 1980’s (I still have several of his early albums on vinyl!!!), so I’m disappointed that there isn’t more of his solo work on this album, but it’s certainly a very pleasant addition to the Christmas music repertoire. The piano and vocals are supported by Grammy winning duo Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel (colleagues from the Narada days) on guitar and woodwinds, cellist Walter Gray, bassist Keith Lowe, and co-producer Gary Lanz.

Forever Christmas begins with “Winter’s Prelude,” a lovely instrumental piece with the full ensemble plus Amarie’s haunting vocals. The title track is a sweet love song that also reflects on the meaning of Christmas. “Snow Dance” is one of the piano solos. Spare and very free, it’s a lovely meditation for a cold winter’s day. Amarie’s passionate, crystalline voice really soars on “O Holy Night” - a gorgeous arrangement of one of my favorites. “Jubilate” is the longest of the piano solos at just over 2 1/2 minutes and is pure Lanz in one of his more celebratory moods. “Sweet Winter Love” appears as both a vocal and a shorter instrumental version. The lyrics refer to many holiday festivities as well as to the gift of each other’s hearts on Christmas Day. “What Is Christmas” also has vocal and instrumental versions, and this time it’s the instrumental that’s a bit longer. The melody is wistful and reflective and the lyrics are poignant and kind of sad. “Winter Star” is mostly piano, but has wordless vocals here and there for “angelic” embellishment. This is my favorite track and shows Lanz at his gentle, introspective best. “A Thousand Lights” features lyrics in both English and Norwegian and some lovely English horn by Nancy Rumbel. This peaceful, flowing arrangement of “Silent Night” is a sung in English and the original German - also a favorite. Tranquil and ambient, “Heavenly Peace” is arranged for piano and wordless vocals and brings the album to a quiet close.

Forever Christmas is available from davidlanz.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. If you are looking for some brand new music for the holidays, this is a good place to start!
October 29, 2014
This review has been tagged as:
Holiday Albums
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