Once an artist uses our platform to connect with an audience, we grandfather them into the NoiseTrade community for life and keep our antennae tuned to let you know about whatever future projects they’re working on. This week’s heads up: NT Alumni Ingrid Michaelson releases her first holiday album Songs for the Season featuring a refreshing blend of nostalgic classics and carols, as well as her own modern original (“Happy, Happy Christmas”).
Ingrid Michaelson’s fond connection to Christmas hasn’t exactly been a tightly held secret throughout her career. Over the years, she’s recorded a healthy handful of holiday and winter songs, even compiling a few of them for last year’s release of her 5-song digital EP Snowfall. However, this year she’s cranked the seasonal spirit all the way up with the release of her highly anticipated first full-length Christmas album, Songs for the Season, along with a full holiday tour called “Ingrid Michaelson Trio Presents: Songs for the Season” that runs through the middle of December.
Michaelson’s creative approach on Songs for the Season captures the tonal warmth and thematic nostalgia of some of the most revered classics in the Christmas canon – Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Brenda Lee, Sinatra – but her immediately recognizable voice and pop-savvy production choices really bring the familiar classics into spaces that straddle past and present in really cool ways. For example, album opener “Looks Like a Cold, Cold Winter” features horn blasts and Andrews Sisters-esque background vocals that both sound transported from a 1950s radio broadcast, yet they mingle perfectly with dancing piano lines and Michaelson’s playful vocals to bring the mid-century Christmas cover to a fresh audience.
Even when tackling a more modern classic like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” Michaelson again foregoes mere imitation for a wildly successful adaptation that finds her turning the exuberant holiday hit into a slower, sentimental ballad that features syrupy string accompaniment and wonderfully lush duet vocals from Leslie Odom Jr. of Hamilton fame. In fact, Michaelson’s ability to musically play well with others shines through on a variety of tracks throughout Songs for the Season, including “White Christmas” with pop star Christina Perri, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” with 14-year old rising artist Grace Vanderwaal, “Mele Kalikimaka” with frequent collaborators Allie Moss and Bess Rogers, and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” with actor-singer Will Chase.
Alongside the 11 holiday classics, Michaelson also wrote a beautifully bittersweet original for Songs for the Season called “Happy, Happy Christmas.” Last month, Michaelson told The Boston Globe that “There’s so much sadness and so much darkness around us, whether it’s the world or whether it’s something in your life that you’re dealing with. But to me, the only choice is to persevere and to find your flicker of light and to find your joy and to continue the traditions. That’s what ‘Happy, Happy Christmas’ is about, that’s what ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ is about, and that’s the idea I wanted people to get from this record.”
If you’re looking for a new holiday album that is pitch-perfectly reminiscent of throwback Christmas classics without being boring retreads of them, then I definitely recommend picking up Ingrid Michaelson’s Songs for the Season. If you want the full seasonal sonic transportation experience, grab the incredibly well-done vinyl version where the clean vinyl pressing, large nostalgic artwork, festive lyric insert, and holiday postcard (with digital download code) will find itself right at home next to the older Christmas classics in your collection.