If ever there was a Christmas album for quiet times during the holidays, Brad Jacobsen’s Deck the Halls
is it. The ten tracks include twelve traditional carols (two tracks are medleys) and one original tune, all arranged for solo piano in a style that encourages thoughtful reflection and relaxation. Jacobsen recorded this album at Joe Bongiorno’s Piano Haven Studio, guaranteeing a warm, clean piano sound that really enhances these Christmas melodies.
Deck the Halls
opens with the title song, played very slowly at first as a long introduction and then going into a more spirited style that exudes joy. This is the most upbeat of the songs, giving the album a joyous beginning. “Holly, Ivy, & Evergreen” is a beautiful medley of “The Holly and the Ivy” and “O Christmas Tree,” a combination I haven’t heard before, but that works really well. Both songs are slower than you usually hear them, lending their style to Jacobsen’s graceful playing. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” has a moderate tempo and a very flowing style that allows the listener to really hear the beauty of Mendelssohn’s melody. “The Wassail Song” isn’t a carol you hear all the time, and Jacobsen’s lovely arrangement makes me wonder why. “A New Star” is Jacobsen’s own composition, a gentle and graceful ballad that holds its own well next to the well-worn holiday gems. “Child’s Christmas Medley” is a charmer. It contains “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,” played slowly and seriously; “Up On the Housetop,” also played slowly, evoking magical images of the red-suited man making his rounds; and the lovely “Toyland” by Victor Herbert. “We Three Kings” is a song that can be played in an amazing variety of styles and genres, but Jacobsen’s arrangement is soft-spoken and elegant - again allowing the melody to sing in way that emphasizes its beauty. At one time, “Silent Night” was the most-recorded song ever. I don’t know if that’s still true, but Jacobsen once again takes a well-worn nugget and makes it sound brand new. Slow, graceful, and achingly beautiful, it’s a wonderful closing to this exceptional album.
Deck the Halls
is a wonderful addition to your Christmas music collection if you are looking for elegant piano solos or just some quiet, relaxing music to help de-stress the holidays. This one will certainly bring you back to “the reason for the season.” It is available from www.bradjacobsenmusic.com
, Amazon, and iTunes. Recommended!