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Upper Structure

Berklee College of Music

Favorite Time of Year - Single (2022)


Review By Dan Fister

June 17, 2023

Ordering Information

Favorite Time of Year streams on Spotify

Dan Fister

For those of you lamenting the hot (and maybe humid) summer months, listening to Berklee College of Music Upper Structure's Christmas single Favorite Time of Year will transport your mind to a winter wonderland, surely tiding you over until snow falls again.

Though this r&b-inflected song (originally performed by India Arie, Joe Sample, and Tori Kelly) may not be a Christmas radio station staple yet, it fits right into the canon of contemporary holiday classics. And Upper Structure as an ensemble captures so much of what makes the original song a must-add to my holiday playlist. The groove sits right in the pocket. Seamless blend and dynamic swells cascade in the background vocals, perfectly supporting the soloists. The short call-and-response section at the end of the track leaves me wanting the track to extend one more minute!

My lone critique of this otherwise excellent single is that I have trouble understanding the soloists, Shanna Kachuriner and Shannon O'Donnell. Don't get me wrong: their beautiful timbres and vocal runs come through just fine! But on this wordy song to which most people will not know the lyrics by heart, their diction does not break through all of the other sounds on the track. Most of the consonants are muted, aside from overemphasized "s" sounds that too often compete with the vocal percussion cymbal hits. Given how well I can hear the other singers' vocables, I'm guessing this sound issue originated during the editing, mixing, and mastering process — that it was a conscious choice by the recording engineer, Harold Jenkins, who otherwise makes Upper Structure sound excellent.

Nevertheless, don't let this issue deter you from pressing Play on your streaming service of choice and experiencing Favorite Time of Year for yourself.


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