2012 / Brainstorm Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Embracing Winter is pianist/composer Jim Hudak’s sixth album to date and is a collection of fourteen traditional and original songs that celebrate the winter season as well as the winter holidays. All of the tracks are piano instrumentals except for the last one, which features vocals by Hudak and Mary Mac Propersi. A musician who performs an average of two hundred gigs a year, Hudak’s music contains elements of pop, classical, jazz, and country styles blended with his own unique musical vision. A music industry professional for many years, Hudak’s name actually means “the musician” in Slovakian.
Embracing Winter begins with a lively piano solo of “Winter Wonderland” that sets the celebratory mood of the album. Continuing in this joyous mode, “Sleigh Ride” includes the sound of sleigh bells behind the upbeat solo piano arrangement. “Wait For December” is the first of the Hudak compositions, and this one features him on both guitar and piano. Light and optimistic, it’s a lovely addition to the holiday repertoire. “Baby What You Goin’ To Be?” is a lovely ballad that I had not heard before. This piano solo version is sweet and from the heart. “Winter Waltz/Acres of Clams” was a puzzle to me, but it turns out to be an old folk song that originated in Washington State. This arrangement features piano, guitar, and fiddle, harkening back to simpler times. “Let’s Trim the Christmas Tree” is another Hudak original. Carefree and effervescent, it features piano, light percussion, and bass - and a touch of fun! When thinking of novelty Christmas carols, one of the first to come to mind has to be “The Chipmunk Song,” and this solo piano arrangement is wistful and cute even without Alvin and the boys. My favorite track is “I Wonder As I Wander,” an Appalachian carol written by John Jacob Niles. Hudak’s solo arrangement emphasizes the solitude of the wanderer and truly comes from the heart. Three of the more traditional carols that are included in this collection are “Silver Bells,” “Silent Night,” and “The First Noel.” The closing song is “Remember The Child” and was written by Hudak and his long-time song-writing partner Dan Erikson. Full of tenderness and longing, it’s a plea to “let love lead the world to peace.” Hudak’s vocals are strong and full of emotion, making this a great conclusion to the album.
Embracing Winter will be a lively and joyous addition to your winter music collection for many years to come. It’s available from CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes. Check it out!
November 17, 2012