Just in time for the holidays comes an album from Grammy-winning music producer, vocal contractor and studio singer Laura Dickinson. Her album “Auld Lang Syne” was released November 20, 2018 and is a program of songs centered around the Christmas holiday season. This album is thought as a loving tribute to a time of year when people sincerely open their hearts to family and friends, and count their blessings while reflecting on the year gone by.
The record features excellent big band arrangements by top names like Johnny Mandel, Brent Fischer or James A. McMillen and brilliant vocal arrangements by Laura herself.
The album begins with the big band at full speed with “Happy Holiday / The Holiday Season”. Fantastic swinging by band and Laura Dickinson make sure that nobody starts to fall asleep during the holiday season. One blues chorus of solo go to trumpet, alto sax and guitar and then the horns get their chance to show off. A really great arrangement played and sung perfectly.
The second song “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm” is in Laura Dickinson’s repertoire for quite some time and finally made it on this album. The arrangement is by Brent Fischer (he is also a Grammy winner) and he arranged it with a steady moving funky groove. My first highlight on the album. I found a live version of this song for your recommendation:
“Christmas is Starting Now” continues in full-speed-Christmas-spirit with another cool big band arrangement where all sections can show their skills. Trombones, saxes and trumpets and especially the drums have all highlights in the 2:46 minutes of this song. If you plan to have a dance party at Christmas, then this is the right song for it.
“Peace And Joy” is the next tune on the album and we hear Laura Dickinson together with a 24-voice choir including some of her vocal contractor colleagues. This tune is (again) perfectly arranged and sung and brings us back to the traditional more contemplative Christmas mood.
“The Man with the Bag” features Steve Trapani on bass-trombone, which other instrument would represent Santa better? Very entertaining, dynamically arranged and played.
“Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” from the movie “White Christmas” features Kye Palmer on trumpet. He switches to “How Deep is the Ocean” in his solo. Laura gets her chance as well here with an impressive finale of the song.
“A Marshmallow World” is the next song and returns with it’s sweet and happy sound to the classic picture we have of American Christmas.
“Miss You Most At Christmas” is a cover version of the Mariah Carey hit, but Laura’s version has much more power and emotions than the original. The incredible string arrangement creates a very natural sound and makes this song to my favorite on the album.
“Let It Snow!” surprises with an extraordinary and extravaganza arrangement in New Orleans style by James A. McMillen. Here is one of those versions where I am really surprised about the ideas and creativity of well-established arrangers.
A video from the recording studio is also available for this song, which I highly recommend:
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” features Laura and pianist Alan Steinberger. Another ideal opportunity for Laura to show her mastery, her vocal range and her perfect intonation.
The final song on the album is the title song “Auld Lang Syne” (Old Long Since) which is the traditional tune sung in the English-speaking world at midnight on New Year’s Eve to bid farewell to the old year. The tune is based on an old Scots folk melody and the arrangement of guitarist Andrew Synowiec revives that spirit. Guitars and Laura’s for several voices singing dominate this tune.
To summarize it, the album is an impressive collection of outstanding arrangements presented in a impeccable manner by a great big band and an incredibly versatile Laura Dickinson. The album covers different nuances of the Christmas spirit from sticky sweet to melancholic back to a big party and ends with the right song for New Year’s Eve, so it is the perfect companion for the whole holiday season.
Here comes a playlist on Spotify to listen to the album:
If you want to learn more about Laura Dickinson, please check out her website: