HomeRecording Review: Take 6's "The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year"

Joseph Livesey's picture

Take 6’s latest offering doesn’t disappoint, and how could it? It’s Take 6. If there were any criticism I could give without feeling totally blasphemous, it would be that this is a great jazz CD. Nothing wrong with that – but that’s how I’d qualify it before recognizing it as a Christmas album. It could just be me, but overall the sound seems to be somewhat less about celebrating the season by emoting heartfelt stories, and more about creating awesome jazz. Then again, if you’re listening to this album you’re probably a big fan of Take 6’s aesthetic (which – don’t get me wrong – I am), and in that case how is there anything to criticize? As critical as I must sound, I should restate that this is a great album, and I do enjoy it. On that note, I won’t write everything I want to, about just how much I enjoy it – you owe it to yourself to just go get it and listen a couple times straight through. But here are some highlights:

 ‘Sleigh Ride’ is one of the tracks which does pin down that elusive Christmas vibe for me – just enough signature Take 6 playfulness balanced against an accessible and relatable arrangement. Another fun offering, ‘Grinch’ has entertaining dialogue, and it’s the first version I’ve heard to feature the Grinch himself! In ‘The Sugarplum Dance,’ I expected some vocalese (as the song has no lyrics), but instead the guys let you sit back and appreciate just how their progressions and style can stand alone to create a wonderful song. Nice mute halfway through – unmistakably vocal, but I wouldn’t say I’d have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been able to tell. ‘White Christmas’ is a hip samba with an imaginative addition between verses, and the slow swing on ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ cohesively sets the ballad feel of the song within the framework Take 6 is so well known for, smooth backing vocals and runs. Yet, as close as I think they come with this one, I just don’t feel that Christmas spark!

One last thing, lest you think I’m an incorrigible cynic – my favorite moment comes from a song that actually isn’t among my favorites on the album. At 1:10 on ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,’ the lyric “the world” is sung exquisitely – with only one voice. Instantly, it represents the billions around the world, perfectly realizing the singularity and smallness of flawed humanity before the presence of an omniscient god, and their need for collective redemption. Or maybe I read too much into it – but I think Take 6 knew what they were doing there. ‘The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ is a beautifully articulated offering from a timeless group – pick it up at the iTunes store today!


About the author:
A founding member of UCI Nice Guys in 2003 and  UCI Haath in 2004, Joseph's longest a cappella stint was arranging for, directing, and embarrassing himself onstage with Fermata Nowhere from 2005-2009, and somehow being part of their 2009 ICCA win. From 2009 to 2010, SoundStage was unlucky enough to carry Joseph in their lineup. Despite that misfortune, SoundStage managed to sneak away with a 2nd place title at the 2009 Taiwan International A Cappella Festival and a win at the 2010 LA Harmony Sweepstakes Regionals.

Joseph just moved 1000 miles from his home, family and friends in Southern California to join another group and pursue his dream while traveling the world. News to come, on his blog...

Fermata Nowhere: http://www.facebook.com/fermata.nowhere
Soundstage: http://www.WeAreSoundStage.com
Joseph's Blog: http://songofhome.blogspot.com