I have this rule when it comes to “reviews” of friends Albums that I have stuck to since I started blogging in 2006. It is simple DO NOT REVIEW A FRIENDS ALBUM.
Here is the exception to the rule… THIS CHRISTMAS EP from my friends Ben AbuSaada and Chris Olson and other people I don’t know but I will call friends by default.
Let me go track by track:
1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: Starts off with a dope slide guitar on a resonator. A nice acoustic comes in… Most likely a Breedlove because I know Ben and the holy spirit and God works best through a Breedlove. [UPDATE: the breedlove was Chris Olsons and I have been told it needed new strings which also concerns me because It seems that it may have been malicious and Chris was trying to give Ben tetanus. Possibly a conspiracy, but worth investigating.] All of a sudden out of nowhere comes this… well.. I’m not sure how best to say it… other than I am just baffled how God crammed such an amazing voice into a flannel wearing star wars geek!
The arrangement on this song is really great. It has a swamp blues feel in the middle is really cool. love the cajon on it.. if I can be honest though I would have loved to had heard the gtrs get nasty at the end with slide go all white stripes and DRUMS come in.. that would have put me over the edge..
2. No Other King: An original song… I may or may not have had this song ahead of time and then within about 40 seconds requested the chord chart. It is very hard to find a GOOD advent song and I love this track. We will be doing this at my church this year. Has a really cool St. Theresa/Joan Osborn Mando part in it that I just love! Lyrically for me the central theme of emanuel god with us and the juxtaposition of the cross is really nice… advent songs deal more with the coming of the king, longing, and are almost somber… This one achieves that and instead of focusing on “christmas theme” it takes advent and jumps to Atonement which I really love as a guy who loves liturgy. Fantastic lyrics From Chris Olson, Josh Canady, Ben York, Emily Sibala, and Taylor Sibala
3. The first Noel: A great version… the banjo is a great addition to the track. and I love the break into the chorus. I love the background vocals a TON at the last verse.. Its understated and has a folk feel, but the banjo is played like a bela fleck track which is super cool. I would love to hear what it would sound like with that banjo going like that, a stand up bass, no guitar and a violin.
Final Thoughts: It is clear the ben’s voice was born out of the fires of MORDOR. It is just so rich and has a perfect grit to it. It’s the kind of voice where I actually think “this guy believes what he is singing”. That is so refreshing! The musicality and arrangements of the band are top notch and the production is really professional. This is the Christmas EP to own. They are my friends, but you know I’m not blowing smoke because I broke a personal blog rule!
Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review financially or with any star wars figures. However if anybody does want to bribe me with either of those options I can be swayed.