It’s near the end of September and I’ve just received my first press release for a new album of Christmas music that’s coming out next month. After years of working in restaurants and retail spaces where they force the workers to listen to Christmas music from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day every year, I try to avoid any kind of holiday tunes as much as possible. I’m generally ok with the songs on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day only.
It seems weird that despite the deluge of artists putting out holiday albums every year, there really only seems to be about a dozen songs that actually get played on a constant loop. One year I was in charge of programming, and it was still the same garbage as always, just sung by Destiny’s Child or Mariah Carey instead of Bing Crosby. I really haven’t enjoyed a Christmas song since the “Jingle Bell Rock” scene in Mean Girls, and that was well over a decade ago.
That said, I try to be fair and open-minded when I listen to music that’s sent to me, and it was with that mentality that I put on Lindsey Stirling’s latest, Warmer In The Winter. I became aware of Stirling a couple years ago when I walked past the stage she was playing at Summerfest in Milwaukee. The crowd was HUGE and I was trying to figure out what they were there to see. I got a brief listen to the first song before I had to go, but I didn’t really get it. Since then I’ve come to understand that Stirling’s following is massive, with almost 10 million YouTube subscribers on her channel and well over a billion views. Her last album hit #1 in the Classical and Dance/Electronic charts.
So I know Warmer In The Winter is made by someone with talent. And she brings in a few guest musicians to play with her. Sabrina Carpenter lends her voice to a new version of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” that is arranged well and sounds a little different. Trombone Shorty provides horn work on the title-track, which is a new original. They perform admirably, but I don’t think the true impact of any of these songs come through on record.
As I understand it, the true power of Stirling is the combination of music and dance, which I am sure will be on display during the Warmer In The Winter tour that’s just been announced. She’ll be hitting most major cities, including Chicago on 12/6, starting November 18th. Check out her website for more info. Watch this video if you’re unfamiliar with the amount of choreography that goes into a Lindsey Stirling performance: