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Tino Spieß Vocal Producktions

Das Weihnachtsalbum (2020)

4.3

December 25, 2021

Tuning / Blend 4.3
Energy / Intensity 4.7
Innovation / Creativity 3.3
Soloists 4.7
Sound / Production 4.0
Repeat Listenability 3.7
Tracks
1 Leise rieselt der Schnee 4.7
2 White Christmas 3.7
3 Süßer die Glocken nie klingen 4.3
4 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas 4.0
5 Winter Wonderland / Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! 4.3
6 Santa Baby 4.3

Recorded 2020
Total time: 19:37, 6 songs


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 Leise rieselt der Schnee 5
2 White Christmas 4
3 Süßer die Glocken nie klingen 5
4 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas 5
5 Winter Wonderland / Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! 4
6 Santa Baby 5

Have yourself a cheery little Christmas with this sextet of upbeat modern holiday tunes from Germany's B'n'T and Vocal Producktions. A duo of stunning traditional German carols pairs nicely with four shopping-mall standard American holiday tunes, giving you the feeling of attending an especially classy winter cocktail party. The voices are good, the songs are rehearsed, and the overall mood is cozy and bright.

Opener Leise rieselt der Schnee is the star of the album, with its stellar ensemble and gorgeous solo from Rebecca Horn. She returns to lead an amusingly campy Santa Baby at the end of the album, a track that cycles through all the singers and gives each one their own love interest to boot. Santa Baby, Santa Buddy, Santa Cutie, and Santa Honey all get their turns in the Christmas lights. I imagine each singer ending their bit with a bow and a smattering of polite applause from all those who can clap and hold their drink at the same time.

My traditional soul loved the other traditional song the second-most, Süßer die glocken nie klingen. The bells never sounded sweeter indeed — ever since Praetorius, the Germans have had a lock on some of the best Christmas melodies, and this one does not disappoint. I had a little less interest in the Christmas-pageant routine of the Winter Wonderland / Let It Snow! medley, and likewise White Christmas is not a song I need to hear sung by anyone from the post-Rat Pack generations. The versions here are professional, though, and if you heard them at the mall you'd be more than pleased.

With six tracks, this album feels more substantive than some of the shorter song collections coming out these days. If you like secular-Christmas holiday tunes, this is a worthy add to your collection.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Leise rieselt der Schnee 5
2 White Christmas 4
3 Süßer die Glocken nie klingen 4
4 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas 4
5 Winter Wonderland / Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! 4
6 Santa Baby 4

A cappella afficiado Tino Spieß stayed on-brand this year with the kind of release every musician needs in their catalog: a studio holiday album. The gift that gives itself.

Spieß enlisted a number of musicians to bring these tracks to life, all of them wildly proficient and sonically pleasing singers coming together to make something bigger. These voices often join Spieß's bandmembers from B'n'T, giving us a lot of musicians to marvel over. The problem with this mix and match approach, which has been true since the days of department stores blasting generic holiday music created in studios, is there's no real ensemble feel. I couldn't tell you what this particular "group" sounds like, because these are six tracks collected together by theme (Christmas). It really is a fine collection, and yes, I'll certainly spin it when we're opening presents. But there's definitely a non-specific, soft rock on the radio feel to the work (the title even translates to "The Christmas Album"), especially in contrast to reviewing Business Casual's six-pack of Christmas tunes just prior to listening to this offering.

If the star we're supposed to focus on is Tino Spieß himself, that guy is mesmerizing, as you'll hear plain as day in White Christmas. But his friends are just as delightful: star-stealer Rebecca Horn opens this release with a stunning solo in Leise rieselt der Schnee, the best track on the album which starts with a delicate and warm feel before growing into a big and beautiful place of wonder. Süßer die Glocken nie klingen adds atmospheric soft jingles to the lullabye-esque setting, and there's more delicacy coating us in warmth for Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. I love the nice touches throughout this collection: a fire crackling in Winder Wonderland, and some fresh humor sprinkled over Santa Baby to close out this release. Tino Spieß puts out quality work and really thinks about his projects.

With mood-setting pieces in English and German, and strong professionalism from top to bottom, Das Weihnachtsalbum will easily slide into your December rotation.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Leise rieselt der Schnee 4
2 White Christmas 3
3 Süßer die Glocken nie klingen 4
4 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas 3
5 Winter Wonderland / Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! 5
6 Santa Baby 4

'Tis the season: on the heels of a flurry of collaborative singles releases, Tino Spieß and his production company, Vocal Producktions, have endeavored to release a Christmas EP. The tracks and, in turn, the album itself may feel a tad bit uneven, but there is enough joy and fun included in Das Weihnachtsalbum to get you in the holiday spirit.

Kudos belong to Spieß not only for producing the album, but for doing so utilizing more than one language. There is great clarity and facility in both, and while some groups specialize in multilingual work, it still thoroughly impresses me when the expression is clear in all of them. Additionally, given the pandemic constraints, assembling the artists he collaborates with is no small feat. The soloists on Süßer die Gloven nie kinglin have excellent access to their top range without sacrificing pitch or tone quality. Dynamics are plentiful and well-placed throughout the album, perhaps most notably in the Winter Wonderland / Let It Snow medley and the many deftly-approached swells and responses to the soloists. And while I would normally "bah, humbug" Santa Baby as a song, Spieß's cover (most reminiscent of the Michael Bublé version) is exuberant, varied in both solo and background voice color, and utilizes the vocal medium wonderfully with stellar chord voicing. Comedy works its way into Winter Wonderland / Let It Snow, and the lightness is perfect for counteracting ballad predominance.

That said, the album is not without its head-scratchers, starting with the fact that each of the six tracks begins slowly or as a ballad, even if it doesn't end that way, making it difficult to listen repeatedly. And while I am grateful for dynamics, a few crescendos feel a bit jarring, as if some dimmer switches were slid in-studio rather than a more authentic dynamic shift from the singers. The "bop" final button trope is used in multiple songs, which somewhat cheapens some otherwise well-crafted endings. White Christmas almost seems as though it might be something new and different rather than the exceptionally famous version by The Drifters ... until it proves to be yet another play on The Drifters.

All told, this Vocal Producktions' holiday album should be able to spark up some cheer to end this year, even in the Scroogiest of Scrooges.


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