Marshmallow World & Other Holiday Favorites

Raul Malo Marshmallow World & Other Holiday Favorites NewDoor Every holiday season a new blizzard of seasonal albums hit the store shelves and online shops. How’s a merry elf to know which one to choose with so many options out there? I suggest you take off your Santa cap, scratch behind your pointy ears and think about your favorite artists and the kind of music you enjoy outside of the holiday season. I’ll bet that will give you direction in choosing a new CD from this year’s drift of ho-ho-ho. If you’ve been spending time listening to WYEP then Raul Malo’s Marshmallow World & Other Holiday Favorites might be just the pick for you. Malo has been an audience pleaser beginning with his days in the neo-country band The Mavericks. He’s continued to delight as a solo artist whether he’s singing his own Latin-tinged compositions or covering standards. His rich tenor and heart-wrenching phrasing has captured a loyal following for his recent releases and frequent visits to Pittsburgh. There’s something a little campy about Malo’s cover albums and Marshmallow World gives him the chance to let the sentiment rip on the holiday standards. The title track is absolutely over the top with syrupy string arrangements, skipping flute interludes and Ray Conniff-like backing chorus. Listen to this one while wearing your v-neck cashmere sweater, preferably red with argyle trim. From here we get a dose of broken-hearted Christmas lamentation. “Not So Merry Christmas” is the kind of song that seems to have been written for a voice like Malo’s and the arrangement, with its lonely twang-guitar, is sure to remind you of his work with The Mavericks. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” follows in this tear-streaked vein. Holiday’s are a time to raise the glass so let’s head to the lounge for “Jingle Bells” and “White Christmas.” Snapping fingers, bar-organ and jazzy vocals bring inspiration to toastmaster’s everywhere. Raul offers ample reason for mixing the cocktails and getting all sentimental over your co-workers. As for you couples who need a little grinding music for the mistletoe dance, Raul delivers the goods with the bluesy, horn-infused number, “Santa Claus Is Back In Town.” Come to think of it, “Blue Christmas” should get you coupled on the dance floor, as well. “Silver Bells begins as a light tango then turns into a swinging band number. Malo’s exuberant take on “Feliz Navidad” acknowledges his Latin heritage in the style of his first solo album. His treatment of “Silent Night” is as close to traditional or reverent as you’ll get on this release but it does showcase his vocals at there most beautiful and crystalline. Past generations had their Christmas crooners; Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Doris Day, Johnny Mathias, Robert Goulet, and Nat King Cole brought their gift to holiday revelers. We have Raul Malo to listen to as we hang the garland, bake the cookies and deal with holiday traffic (RMW)

Rosemary Welsch, WYEP Afternoon Mix host