BWW Reviews: David Lanz & Kristin Amarie's Gorgeous FOREVER CHRISTMAS
As I sit here writing this review I have David Lanz and Kristin Amarie's latest release, Forever Christmas, playing in the background. Any regular reader of my music reviews knows that I have a genuine soft spot in my heart for David's elegant and brilliantly inventive work on piano. He's simply one of the finest musicians in the world, and this collaboration with the love of his life, Kristin, continues his string of unbelievably wonderful and joyous works. This time, the focus is on Christmas, and with a blend of original compositions and some classic holiday fare that have special meaning to each of them, they've managed to capture the spirit of the season with a sense of warmth and sensitivity that's often missing in most holiday collections.
From the beautiful opening of "Winter's Prelude" to the crystalline vocals that grace "Forever Christmas", the album's mood is immediately set. This isn't a brash celebration of materialism, but instead, something that touches the heart and soul of the listener as they progress through the tracks. "Oh Holy Night" is simply gorgeous in its delicate but impassioned presentation, and Kristin's voice gracefully wraps itself around each note, delivering a sound that's truly transcendent. "La Estrella De La Navidad" and "Jubilate" offer interesting instrumental contrasts, leading into the wondrously conceived "Sweet Winter Love." "What is Christmas?" begs the listener to contemplate just what the holiday means to them.
"Winter Star (How I Wonder)" give us a contemplative piece augmented by Kristin's haunting voice, while "A Thousand Lights" is just a beautiful melody made even more so by an arrangement that fills out the sound with additional instrumentation. "Sweet Winter Love" and "What Is Christmas" reprise the earlier vocal renditions, but reveal their intricacies through David's ability to let the compositions flow through his fingers to create something even more delicate and embracing. "Silent Night" draws the emotional response desired with a reading that affectionately rekindles the meaning of the lyrics with a simple directness that's never coy or contrived. You can feel the genuine love and joy radiating from the track. "Heavenly Peace" brings the album to a close on a tranquil and satisfying note.
David Lanz contributes the lovely piano foundations that make these tracks shine, but he also adds keyboards, bell, and cymbals. Kristin Amarie's vocals have the ability to stir the soul in a most gentle and effective way, and they bring the vocal selections to life in a vibrant manner. Keith Lowe (bass), Nancy Rumbel (woodwinds), Eric Tingstad (guitar), Walter Gray (cello) Gary Lanz (guitar and co-producer), and Alfonzo Davideo (guitar) flesh out some of the material with their various instrumental input, but they never overpower, acting to enhance the songs in ways that are often subtle and tender.
David Lanz and Kristin Amarie have crafted a truly fine album with Forever Christmas, and it's the perfect selection to play, whether you're at a holiday gathering with friends and family, or just getting cozy on a cold December evening with a loved one next to a roaring fire. I highly recommend this album!