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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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RJ Lannan's 2011 Holiday Music Reviews
By V/A
Holiday Reviews 2010
Over the years expectations of Christmas and the Holidays have changed for me. It went from a time of great anticipation with gaudy paper, ribbons and double A batteries to a few days when there truly might be a Silent Night. I wish the world could find peace in every sense of the word. No more earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, fires or wars. You know what I mean. So as you listen to my recommendations, and there are quite a few this season, please join me in wishing the world the greatest gift of all…peace on earth, good will to men.

Paul Adams
This Christmas
Lakefront Productions


I've known Paul Adams as a prominent flutist for so long I forgot he is a multi-instrumentalist as well. His holiday offering, This Christmas is resplendent with acoustic instruments and gentle voices on songs that uphold the merriest traditions. Guitar, mandolin and dulcimers sing prominently on The Little Drummer Boy, Ave Maria and my all time holiday favorite Oh Come , Oh Come Emmanuel. Paul does particularly great job on a dulcet version of The Carol of the Bells. If an acoustic traditional holiday is your wish, then I recommend This Christmas.

Joseph Akins
A Piano Christmas
Heart Song Music


From the album A Piano Christmas Nashville Pianist Joseph Akins captures all the cold, clear joy to be had on this remarkable holiday with his rendition of, you guessed it, O Come , O Come Emmanuel. He renders a beautiful, full arrangement of the song in the style of David Lanz and I say that in a most complimentary way. Other noteworthy tracks include Angels We Have Heard on High which has all the makings of a suite and Silent Night which had all the beauty that its name implies. Joseph adds a bit of whimsy with a song I heard all too much as a child, I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas joined with Santa Clause is Coming to Town.

Louis Colaiannia
The Keys of Christmas
Independent Release


I loved the cover art of synthesist Louis Colaiannia's album Keys of Christmas. Unfortunately, this CD sounded like it was recorded in someone’s basement. The sound was below average. Audio, aside the songs were warm and pleasant with the inclusion of the tracks Sea of Stars, which I had never heard before, Eyes of a Child, and Sailing on a Dream all composed by Colaiannia himself. One of my favorites is called Dancing Snowflakes and there were very good renditions of O Tannenbaum and Angels We Have Heard on High.

Fiona Joy Hawkins
Christmas Joy
Little Hartley Music


I have always said that one of my favorite winter songs is Walking in the Air from the Snowman television production. Pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins must have been listening and she has gifted the world with a wondrous arrangement on her holiday album Christmas Joy. It almost comes out like a Celtic Christmas song and I loved it for that. Frankly, her other ten tracks are remarkable as well. Being from the other side of the world, Australia, Fiona offers some songs I was not familiar with, but can easily appreciate, for instance, Still, Still, Still, Gliding on a Sleigh and Flight of the Snowbird. Snowbird features Rebecca Daniel's violin that melts in your mind. Highly recommended.

David Hoffman
Christmas at Your House
Lakefront Productions


Trumpeter and music arranger Dave Hoffman offers up a heartwarming album to chase away the winter blues and makes Christmas merry. The CD offers traditional songs with slightly jazz and contemporary flavor. Several of the songs a original Hoffman tunes. His offering of We Three Kings is superlative as is White Christmas and Hoffman's own Winter Homecoming. The outstanding favorite on Christmas In Your Heart is one by Hoffman and Adams called Christmas Lullaby (Praying for Peace) with its dreamy-sweet melody and warm vocal by Jolie Nordstrom and Katrina Addison.

Bill Leslie
A Midnight Clear - Christmas in Mitford
Greycliff Music

Bill Leslie, the foremost Celtic-American multi-instrumentalist I know offers A Midnight Clear - Christmas in Mitford, sixteen tracks of wistful, cheery songs for enjoyment on any holiday. The album features warm, wonderful wishes from Mitford, the mythical town from writer Jan Karon's books. All of the songs are on acoustical instruments. Bill, along with quite a few talented friends, plays not only traditional fare, but new offerings written by Bill. Mitford Carol features Leslie's signature pennywhistle and inspiring arrangement. I loved The Holly and the Ivy, Father Tim and I Wonder As I Wonder, but the brightest star was Winter Rose, with a great vocal by Marty Long, a song of a simple winter gift that lasts forever.

Kyle Pederson
Independent Release

Kyle Pederson is new to me, but I love his music. His piano has life and energy to it and it makes his music come alive. His album 12.25 has eleven tracks of intricate solo piano. His rendition of Silent Night is truly unique and worth the price of admission. He turns O Come All Ye Faithful into a new song and introduced me to Gabriel's Message, a song of which I was unfamiliar. Truly delightful album. I want to hear more of Kyle Pederson.

Carolynn Southworth
Home for Christmas
Heron’s Point Music


I guess it is no surprise that pianist Carolyn Southworth delivers an album-ful of "carols" on Home For Christmas, and she does it very well. The songs are well orchestrated and the credits contain some familiar names like Jace Vek, Paul Speer and Jennifer Thomas. She offers an old favorite of mine, a French Canadian song called 'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime. Carolyn does some great interpretations of Bring the Torch Jeannette, Isabella, O Come O Come Emmanuel and introduces a new, original instrumental called Shades of White. The First Noel, a favorite, and Pat A Pan were two outstanding tracks.
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 11/27/2011
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