MICHAEL DOHERTY’S MUSIC LOG
June Bisantz: “7 Shades Of Snow” (2021) CD Review
Vocalist June Bisantz began her holiday EP 7 Shades Of Snow back in the winter of 2020, when everything was shut down because of the pandemic. Like many albums at that time, the music on this disc was recorded remotely. Interestingly, the musicians on this album are people June Bisantz never met. They include Jon Burr on bass, Mike Eckroth on piano, James Chirillo on guitar, Marc Pfaneuf on saxophone, Brandon Lee on trumpet, and Alvester Garnett on drums. Unlike most holiday releases, 7 Shades Of Snow features material written by just one songwriting team, Arnold Miller and Connie Pearce. All of these songs were originally recorded by June Christy, appearing on her 1961 holiday album This Time Of Year.
The EP opens with “The Merriest,” a song that sounds like its title. There is certainly a good dose of cheer here, particularly in June’s vocal performance. And I love that lead on trumpet. That’s followed by “Ring A Merry Bell,” which begins as a slower, warmer song. Its opening lines are: “Things I have lost, things I am learning/Make the world seem strange/Wanderers must have something to trust/Never let Christmas change.” Ah yes, it is important to have something we can count on. And why not let that be Christmas? When this song kicks in, it develops a cool vibe. “I am far from home/Sing a merry song at Christmas time/Please be jolly, tell familiar fables/For the folks who roam.” This one strikes a chord with me in part because of these lyrics about being far from home. It always feels strange to not be with family on the holiday. This track features a wonderful lead on bass, and at the end, June Bisantz sings that the highest, brightest star might guide her home.
“Hang Them On The Tree” is an interesting and unusual Christmas song. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “I’ll take the sorrows of last November/Make them a part of Christmas Day/Color them shiny bright and gay/And hang them on the tree.” Taking all the troubles and turning them to something positive. I really like this song, and I don’t recall hearing it before. I particularly love June Bisantz’s vocal performance on this track, but there is also some really nice work on both piano and guitar. This is one that should definitely be on everyone’s holiday play list. That’s followed by “Seven Shades Of Snow,” the disc’s title track. I like that a line that is typical of the season, “Everyone I meet wears a smile,” is followed by the surprisingly honest line “Just for a little while.” Sometimes that’s all we can manage. And then this song is about the attempt to hold onto that glow, at least personally. It seems we always mean to do that, hope to do that, and always fail. This is a moving song.
“Sorry To See You Go” is a song that takes place on New Year’s Eve, and is addressed to the year that is coming to a close. I love the moment it kicks in and the lines she sings at that point: “Though your back is bent/And your beard is gray/You’re a year well spent/And I’d like to say/You put on a first class show/And I’m sorry to see you go.” I am not sure anyone will be sad to see 2021 go (though it was a better year than 2020). Here is hoping that 2022 will be much better. Interestingly, in this song, June sings “There’s nothing left up your sleeve/But I’m sorry to see you leave,” and then the EP concludes with a song titled “Winter’s Got Spring Up Its Sleeve.” This is a beautiful and honest song about winter, opening with the line “So the season makes you sad and sentimental.” That line works regarding the holiday season and winter in general. Those long nights can wear on the sturdiest of us. This song tells us to hold on, because spring is coming. “A time to plan, a time to rest/Get ready to be at your best.” We can all use a hopeful song like this one.
CD Track List
- The Merriest
- Ring A Merry Bell
- Hang Them On The Tree
- Seven Shades Of Snow
- Sorry To See You Go
- Winter’s Got Spring Up Its Sleeve
7 Shades Of Snow was released on CD on October 1, 2021, at least according to the sheet I received. The label’s website lists the release date as July 30th (though that could be the digital release date), and Amazon lists it as November 16th.