With Michael Buble pimping himself out to Asda (Walmart for our North American cousins) the position of “King of Christmas” is up for grabs, and who would have expected the face-melter-in-Chief Mark Tremonti to be jostling with the likes of Robbie Williams, Josh Groban, and Gregory Porter for the title? Although, it won’t be that much of a surprise to anyone whose paths have crossed with Tremonti’s first foray into crooning – 2022’s ‘Mark Tremonti Sings Sinatra’. And now, Mark Tremonti has reunited with the orchestra from his Sintara project for his first-ever holiday album: ‘Christmas Classics New & Old’, released through his Take A Chance For Charity organization. 10 tracks that feature Tremonti’s interpretation of well-known holiday classics and one self-penned original, it is the most wonderful time of the year after all!
It’s slightly surreal that one-half of the guitar partnership that conjured up the heartfelt and jaw-dropping co-solo on Alter Bridge’s ‘Blackbird’, and the guy that went full-on Metal God-mode with his Tremonti project is so comfortable with the crooning style made famous in the 50’s and 60’s by such household names as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Bing Crosby. Many charity projects fall short of quality because the thought behind it is more important than the result. However, there are no such worries here with Mark Tremonti because the quality never falters and in some places is breathtaking. ‘The First Noel’ for instance is stunning. Built around Tremonti’s bare vocals and later on, a choir, it is gorgeous. The arrangements are glorious, and it is honestly quite an emotional few minutes, especially as the song builds to a crescendo where Mark hits a note and holds it perfectly as the orchestra envelops him with lashings of Timpani percussion and strings and the choir does what most choirs do – steal the show.
Whereas the Queen of Dark Christmas Tarja put her slant on similar classics on her recently released ‘Dark Christmas’ album, Tremonti sticks mostly to the script and delivers faithful versions of the likes of; ‘The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ (where the horn section are put to great use, as they also are on ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’); a fun-filled romp through ‘Jingle Bells’ that has some utterly delightful backing vocals; a smooth version of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ where you can almost feel the heat from the log fire that you just know Tremonti is sitting in front of; and a stunning version of ‘O Holy Night’ that – thanks to the beautiful arrangements from esteemed producer and musician Carey Deadman, and a towering vocal performance from Tremonti – comes complete without any of the histrionics that blighted Mariah Carey’s version of the same song.
2 of the standout moments (on an album of many) are the opposites of each other. First, the Tremonti-penned original ‘Christmas Morning’ where his vocals are the aural equivalent of coming in from the snow to find a roaring fireplace waiting. “My lady and me will make sure our children believe in the glory of Christmas morning” offers up Mark on a track full of lush string arrangements. Secondly, how about that incredible soul-drenched version of the Donny Hathaway classic ‘This Christmas’?! It ends the album for a reason: it sleighs! Mark Tremonti; face-melter, guitar-slinger, metal vocalist, crooner, and now, soul-singer? Could this be a hint of the direction that Tremonti is going in with a third album? If so, then where do we sign up? His voice is perfect for this kind of smooth soul and right now this reviewer is imagining Mark Tremonti working his magic on Bobby Womack’s ‘Across 110th Street’. For now, though, Christmas belongs to Mark Tremonti.
Put a little love in your heart and get into the Christmas spirit by heading on over to: www.tremontichristmas.com.
Review – Dave
Photo credit: Chuck Brueckmann
Tremonti Sings Sinatra Tour:
1.05.24 – Atlantic City, NJ – The Music Box at Borgata
1.06.24 – Red Bank, NJ – Count Basie Center For The Arts
About Take A Chance For Charity:
Take A Chance For Charity is a new charity focused on giving artists/actors/athletes/anyone with a platform the ability to get out of their comfort zone. The idea is to have people get out of the genre they are known for to raise funds/awareness for the charity of their choice. We want people to have the most fun they ever had while raising money for charity. An actor can sing, an athlete can dance, a musician can perform a song out of their musical genre – any artistic interpretation. This gives participants the ability to do something out of the ordinary – in fact extraordinary – all in the name of charity. Tremonti Sings Sinatra was the very first release for the cause, the recipient being NDSS. A video sharing the story of Take A Chance For Charity can be seen here: https://youtu.be/7FroQm-63RI.
The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) is the leading human rights organisation for all individuals with Down syndrome. NDSS envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realise their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming communities. Founded in 1979, NDSS supports and advocates for the Down syndrome community by focusing on three key areas of programming: Resources & Support, Policy & Advocacy, and Community Engagement. Within these focus areas NDSS engages in various activities, events, and programs on topics that are critical to our community such as federal and state advocacy and public policy, health and wellness, education, and employment. NDSS creates resources to support individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and caregivers across the lifespan and hosts awareness and engagement events throughout the country including the National Buddy Walk® Program, the Times Square Video presentation and New York City Buddy Walk®, Racing for 3.21 on World Down Syndrome Day, Run for 3.21, DC Golf Outing, the annual NDSS Gala & Auction, and various other events. Visit www.ndss.org for more information about NDSS.