'New York Christmas Blues' Holiday EP Release
I have two amazing Vocal Coaches - Marlon Saunders and Louise Taylor - One in NYC and one in Hawaii who I skype with. I am lucky enough that both of these coaches have also become my friends and mentors. I was chatting with Marlon one afternoon and he suggested I put out a Christmas EP. Without hesitation, I went home that day and started to write a Christmas song. That same week, it took me an entire evening to scour the royalty free Christmas music song collection. Who knew there was so much Christmas Music out there?! I’ve heard it all but I never studied it so closely.
I used to love Christmas growing up but I’ve always been weary of it’s commercial aspects. Once I moved to New York, I started to become more jaded and began to see the holiday from a very frivolous perspective. I used to joke about recording Christmas music until this year, when I actually gave it a shot. The EP consists of two re-interpreted Christmas songs and one original title track.
‘New York Christmas Blues’ happens to be the first full band recording I have created and released apart from my solo acoustic work. I feel it's a decent possible representation of the direction I will be heading in over the next few years as my sound continues to evolve. I worked with producer The 83rd to record the song live using vintage tape machines, a bullet mic on vocals and only one hallway mic on the drums.
The original track playfully discusses the commercial aspects of Christmas before reminding us of the joy that spending time with loved ones can bring. It is a direct reminder of how our cultural wellness is dependent on true human connection and not material goods. The recording captures a raw and muddy full band sound reminiscent of a classic 1960's rock band or a Ray Charles Album.
I'm really proud of how the whole EP came together. The other two songs are re-imagined traditional Christmas folk songs ‘It Came Upon A Midnight Clear’ (or ‘Midnight Clear’ as we are calling it) and ‘Go Tell It On The Mountain’.
We recorded ‘Midnight Clear’ first and I wonder what it might have been like if we recorded it second - to me this track was not very different from its traditional form. It feels like a warm-up song. If I were to re-do it, I would alter it more by adding some harmonies and possibly some different rhythm changes to keep it fresh and become more of a bridge between the two tracks. With that said, I’m happy with how it turned out. Sometimes you need a deadline to finish projects so you can learn what you like or don’t like. I know what approach I will take next time I am asked to reimagine a classic track.
I have always loved the traditional Baptist swing of ‘Go Tell it On The Mountain’ but I love the composition Idan and I created for our version of the song even more. This is the kind of fresh take I would like to bring to all of my music.
'New York Christmas Blues' was released Friday, November 30th and can be found through the following:
Bandcamp (Buy the downloads here!)
'New York Christmas Blues' was written by Courtney McKenna with Idan Morim on guitar and Guy Paz on drums.