A xmas cracker from Tom n Natasha
Tom Seals exploded onto the blues/jazz scene with his debut live EP, Where I’m At, which topped the UK blues charts upon its release back in 2017. Working alongside huge names in the scene such as Jools Holland, Jamie Cullam and Tony Christie, the man has a wealth of experience and contacts for someone still in his mid-twenties. Not to mention the fact that he has headlined internationally acclaimed venues such as London’s Ronnie Scotts and New York’s Birdland Jazz Club. Meanwhile, Natasha Hamilton is best known as one third (or quarter, depending on how you look at it) of internationally acclaimed pop girl group Atomic Kitten. With three UK number one singles, two albums hitting double platinum status and a whopping 10 million albums sold worldwide, they are one of the biggest girl bands ever.
Both of these incredible artists have come together this year to create a christmas song, released December 4th, in a great attempt to do something good to close out a frankly rather bad year for the music industry. I have to admit, typically I’m not too much of a fan of modern christmas songs, to the point where I can’t even think of the most up-to-date non-rock Christmas song I like. However, becoming a massive new fan of Seals after doing some background listening into him, alongside Atomic Kittens being a not-so-guilty pleasure of mine, I cannot wait to check this out and let you all know what I think! Also a HUGE thank you to Tom himself for letting me get a sneak preview of this song in order to review it ready for it’s release, it means a lot that Music Festivals UK was considered for this.
Immediately the smooth sounds of Tom’s piano starts us off, it being a pretty defining sound for him at this point. However it still stays true to its purpose, having ‘sleigh bells ringin” from the get go. Adding in the horns over the top and this really does feel like a christmas song, reminding me a lot of the older ones from the likes of Chris Rea or Frank Sinatra as opposed to the more recent, slightly less festive feeling (in my opinion) songs.
It drops back down to a simple drumbeat and piano before Natasha is the first to sing. She has some really great power and control over her voice, it sounding as good as it ever has before, if not better! Of course the lyrics are full of christmas references and joy, from tinsel to snow to fireplaces, some of the typical wonderful things that grace the last month of the year. Tom soon follows, his low, jazzy voice sounding just as incredible as ever. The two also have a wonderful chemistry in this song, playing off each other so well, trading lines back and forth and it honestly feels more like a catchy conversation than a song. Think more Tom Jones and Cerys Mathews and less Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman.
The chorus is short but excellent, even managing to fit in a cheeky little reference to the madness that has been 2020 before rattling off the song title in spectacular fashion. Whether it’s separately or together, both of them do absolutely amazingly. They have such unique presences and voices within the song that each of them seem to do a different type of melody each time the chorus hits, each more impressive than the last. It somehow works even better when they do the same in harmony too, something I was not expecting.
The band kick back in again heading into the second verse, be it more horns, an organ or even some subtle, clean, blues electric guitar solos in there. It all sounds like it would be chaotic but it fits together perfectly with the rest of the music. Also, the parts of this where Tom really cuts loose and goes for it here sound amazing, I’ve always thought that point where you’re straining ever so slightly to push as much power and emotion into your voice as possible sounds awesome and really adds to the song, a lot like Chris Robertson of Black Stone Cherry.
After the second chorus we get a frankly phenomenal piano solo from Tom. The level of playing here is ridiculous, something that rivals even some of the most proficient players out there today such as Jools Holland and (yeah, I’m saying it) Tim Minchin. It sounds awesome, too, keeping the bouncy, bluesy feel to the song while adding so much to the depth and feel to it. One of the best, most fitting solos I’ve heard this year!
The song builds back up into a huge final chorus, repeating the title line three times, each getting more grandiose and epic than the last. It concludes with a half time duet of ‘can’t wait to spend Christmas with you’ that sounds equal parts huge and amazing. A fitting end to what would be a great jazz/blues song anyway, never mind a great christmas song.
Overall, I really loved this. Everyone involved did awesome work here, be it the two vocalists, the backing band or the guys behind the scenes recording, producing and mixing the thing. It was honestly one of the best modern Christmas songs I’ve heard and, after playing it most likely quite a bit over the coming months, it may grow into being pretty high on my list of favourite Christmas songs. The lyrics were simple but easily relatable and the musicians themselves all do a great job at bringing it all to life and injecting their own personalities in there. If you are even a little bit into Christmas songs, check this out when it’s released on the 4th!
The review by musician, blogger & author – Joe Griffiths