Ten years ago Straight No Chaser was a successful college group creating music for fun. As their 1999 graduation approached, they picked replacements so that the group would continue. The ten members then went their separate ways. Different careers and families occupied their time and thoughts of a singing career were left behind. In 2006 the original members of the group were invited back to Indiana University to be honored. Member Randy Stine posted an old video of them singing “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” to YouTube which garnered 8 million hits and the rest as they say is history.
The most important viewer of their video was the president of Atlantic records, Craig Kallman, who signed them to his label. The group reunited and has now released the Christmas album, Holiday Spirits. It became a hit and quickly entered the top half of the Billboard charts. They are now engaged on a successful tour in support on this release.
Straight No Chaser is a unique entity. It is an a cappella group made up of ten unique voices. Larger than many groups of this type, they are able to combine the uniqueness of each voice into a virtual choir. You quickly forget that there are no instruments in support. Holiday Spirits is one of the most unusual and best of the 2008 Christmas releases.
The album is made up of mostly traditional songs. Such pop fare as “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and “Jingle Bell Rock” quick succumb to their touch. The Beach Boys hit, “Little Saint Nick” is the best rendition that I have heard of this old classic. Their harmonies rival that of the original making it a treat.
Such hymns as “Silent Night” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing/Angels We Have Heard on High” are presented in a traditional manner but the subtle textures of their voices create layers of sound that are a delight to the senses.
Naturally their famous live version of “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” is included. This is a song that has been recorded too many times to count. Straight No Chaser actually makes the song different and an interesting listen. They add some comedy to the original lyrics. Trying to discern such songs as Toto’s “Africa” which is interspersed throughout the performance is a treat.
The fourteenth and final song is “Auld Lang Syne” which brings this holiday experience to a satisfying conclusion.
Holiday Spirits by Straight No Chaser presents the spirit of the season in a grand and satisfying manner and would make a fine addition to anyone’s collection.