by Anika Mittu ‘19
It could be argued that late November is far too early for thoughts of sugar cookies and woven stockings. But Ingrid Michaelson’s Christmas album “Songs for the Season”, released on October 26, creates an early onset of the dreamy, warm holiday mindset that makes December 25 feel closer than it is.
In her latest music release since her 2014 album Lights Out, Michaelson embraces a sound of old glamour. Her natural warmth and soft vibrato season the album of classic Christmas covers with comfort. This style combines with sweeping brass lines to captivate listeners with a feeling of nostalgia– one that is especially apparent on “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree.” Michaelson mixes her unique sweet tone with the underscore of instrumental harmonies, all while seamlessly imitating the vocal riffs of the Christmas song that everyone seems to hum in late December.
Michaelson’s ability to blend her adaptable voice with countless other singers lends itself well to creating talented collaborations on the album. Though she sings with accomplished artists such as Grace VanderWaal and Will Chase, her collaborations with Christina Perri and Leslie Odom Jr. serve as standout pieces. Accompanied by Perri and gentle violin instrumentals, Michaelson presents a version of “White Christmas” that feels as delicate as snowflakes. A stunning ending harmony on the song leaves listeners with wide eyes, as Michaelson once again adds a slight twist to classics. Similarly, Michaelson blends her soft tone with Odom Jr’s signature smooth vocals on “All I want for Christmas is You.” An iconic pop song transforms into a soft, comforting duet that gifts listeners’ ears with a calming twist to a classic.
An enthusiastic chorus often accompanies Michaelson through her celebration of crackling fireplaces and colorful ornaments. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” kicks off with the energy of choral voices, propelling the album forward between softer wintry lullabies. Similarly, a featured chorus on “Looks Like A Cold, Cold Winter” interject the melody with a musical-theatre vibe.
Michaelson’s return to the music scene presents an escape from her typical indie-pop music domain. Some may find the classical style of her Christmas album as unfamiliar to the radio-focused sound of mainstream music. And yes, Michaelson’s Christmas album most certainly features an older sound that current music tends to reject. But her album provides a timeless soundtrack of holiday memories, ones that conjure images of past Christmas Eves and mugs of hot chocolate, allowing willing listeners to embrace holiday memories while cherishing the upcoming holiday season.