NEW YORK MUSIC DAILY
Singer June Bisantz Resurrects an Unlikely Holiday Rarity
In 1961, cult heroine June Christy – who was Lynchian decades before the term existed -put out a holiday-themed album of songs by assembly-line songsmiths Connie Pearce and Arnold Miller. In an unusual stroke of serendipity, another singer named June has resurrected this unusual concept album, 7 Shades of Snow, streaming at Bandcamp.
Brightly lit by trumpeter Brandon Lee and saxophonist Marc Pfaneuf, the opening number, The Merriest is bright, brassy and ambitiously syncopated. June Bisantz‘s alto voice is a tad lower than Christy’s, and in general, she swings a whole lot harder.
Ring a Merry Bell seems like a tailor-made Christy vehicle: there’s a dark undercurrent, and that resonates here in the steady, muted guitar of James Chirillo and Mike Eckroth’s piano, rising briefly with bandleader John Burr’s woody bass solo. Likewise, with wistful harmonies from flute and muted trumpet wafting above Bisantz’s unselfconscious resignation, the album’s title track fits that esthetic.
How’s this for a holiday theme: Hang Them on the Tree! But this isn’t a 1961 indictment of, say, Chairman Mao, or KKK lynching posses. Instead, it’s a tightly strolling number pushed along by drummer Alvester Garnett, the horns punching in and out.
Sorry to See You Go is not a lost-love lament but a farewell to Christmas (something an awful lot of people can relate to!) – it’s more than a little Broadway, and not the strongest track here. The album closes with Winter’s Got Spring up Its Sleeve. Again, the trumpet/flute textures nail the subdued mood. Notwithstanding its origins sixty years ago, it’s a guardedly hopeful, apt way to close a record released at this grimly pivotal moment in world history.