‘Good Ol’ Fashioned Christmas’
(Gambling Man Records)
Well it is November 2015 and I’ve kindly been sent The Overtones new Christmas album ‘Good Ol’ Fashioned Christmas’ which is the first release on their own label Gambling Man Records. Now I saw The Overtones live in concert at G Live in Guildford for their ‘Sweet Soul Music’ album and I was impressed. The vocal harmonies were first class and the live band were entertaining and (the live touring band for The Overtones are also the bandits in British country outfit Jess and the Bandits).
Christmas music releases are incredibly important for musicians and record label alike as to partly quote a classic ‘it’s the most lucrative time of the year’. This isn’t me being cynical but just honest about the music industry as a whole. The X Factor winner’s single probably wouldn’t sell as much on a date that isn’t as heavily marketed as 25th December. So for eagle-eyed Overtones fans you would have noticed that the title of this Crimbo offering references the title of their debut album release ‘Good Ol Fashioned Love’ which was released in 2010 and this seems appropriate given how far they have come.
The opening track ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’ has a crystal clear jingle bells backing as lead singer Timmy Matley sings alongside his friends Mark Franks, Mike Crawshaw, Darren Everest and Lachie Chapman with such ease.
‘It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ has lovely rich backing harmonies is a happy song that does bring a smile to your face as they sing about ‘marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the snow’ with classy horn arrangements.
‘Winter Wonderland’ allows Lachie Chapman (bass vocalist) to showcase his pipes and it really puts a spin on this favourite as he builds it up like Björk’s ‘Oh So Quiet’. The electric guitar solo sounds like it is influenced by rockabilly guitarist Brian Setzer and blends well with Chapman’s voice. I can see this one going down very well on their live December 2015 UK Tour ‘A Christmas Party With The Overtones’.
‘Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire’ is not a surprising song choice for this group and although it is well produced and suits their voices there isn’t anything to make me go ‘Oh wow! That’s really different!’ It is a shame as I think that The Overtones are capable of a lot more and I would have enjoyed more original material because as songs like ‘Gambling Man’ proved they are good songwriters.
‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ features some fluid piano and puts The Overtones’s stunning harmonies on display whilst the title track is lively and is welcome amongst the well-known songs. They sound quite comfortable on this number and you can really hear them enjoying themselves.
‘Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow’ and ‘White Christmas’ are well placed on this album but I think it would have been nice if they had a special duet with a female vocalist or fellow vocal harmony group such as The Puppini Sisters to add a little bit of Christmas music magic as it were.
Now if you had to ask me my favourite Christmas song then I would say Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home For Christmas’ as I love his voice on it and it captures Christmas perfectly. It just so happens that this is the closing track on this album. Although I still prefer the original version, The Overtones have made it different enough that it isn’t a note for note copy which on an album of popular Christmas tunes is refreshing.
In conclusion, with this collection of Christmas classics to work with, The Overtones can’t really go wrong but the song choices seem overall very safe and ultimately this is a fan-pleaser rather than a stepping stone to new followers. It is fun and it is tuneful. I would recommend going to see them live though as they put on a fun fantastic hit-laden show.
The Overtones ‘Good Ol’ Fashioned Christmas’ is out now on their own Gambling Man Records label. In addition, The Overtones will be embarking on a 12-date ‘A Christmas Party with The Overtones’ UK Tour in December 2015 at the following venues:
Sunday 6th – Swansea, Brangwyn Hall http://www.swansea.gov.uk/article/20620/Christmas-Party-With-The-Overtones
Monday 7th – Salford, The Lowry http://www.thelowry.com/event/the-overtones1
Tuesday 8th – Scunthorpe, Baths Hall https://tickets.scunthorpetheatres.co.uk/single/eventDetail.aspx?p=31118
Wednesday 9th – Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall http://www.glasgowconcerthalls.com/Pages/EventDetail.aspx?EventId=4d04cb60-b531-4f49-8ba9-a50d00f7189c
Friday 11th – Birmingham, Symphony Hall http://www.thsh.co.uk/event/christmas-party-with-the-overtones/
Saturday 12th – York, Barbican http://tickets.yorkbarbican.co.uk/single/eventDetail.aspx?p=31108
Tuesday 15th – Llandudno, Venue Cymru Arena https://www.venuecymru.co.uk/whats-on/Overtones-Dec-15-TIER/season/908.html
Wednesday 16th – Gateshead, Sage 1 http://www.sagegateshead.com/event/the-overtones38709/
Friday 18th – Margate, Winter Gardens http://www.margatewintergardens.co.uk/event/the-overtones/
Saturday 19th – Southampton, O2 Guildhall http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/event/36004F29A9414966?brand=livenationo2
Sunday 20th – London, indigo at The O2 http://www.axs.com/uk/events/282198/christmas-party-with-the-overtones-tickets?skin=indigo
For more information visit: http://www.theovertones.tv/
(Thanks to Stuart Bennett at Deacon Communications and Pete Sargeant for help with this review)