Review:: Christmas Songs – Fernando Ortega

By Charlotte Sublett Fernando Ortega’s newest album, simply titled Christmas Songs, is definitely one that you can enjoy over and over this Christmas and for many Christmases to come. Ortega’s timeless contemporary piano arrangements and simple, clean-cut vocals are heart-warming, and his newest takes on some of our favorite Christmas songs are refreshing and enjoyable for all audiences.

Creativity:: 9 The track listing follows the birth of Christ from start to finish, including interesting interludes on classic hymns and some different takes on the traditional meters and rhythms.  I also enjoyed the instrumentation.  It’s not just piano like some of his other albums.  Christmas Songs includes instruments like bongo drums, guitar, various types of percussion, and cello.  This album contains three instrumental pieces: “Go, Tell it on the Mountain”, “Carol of the Birds”, and “Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella”.

Original Songs:: 7 All of the songs have original musical arrangements by Fernando except for “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.”  The one entirely original song, “Jesus, King of Angels,” seems a bit like an album filler in this case. It’s a good song, but it seems a bit overshadowed by the other Christmas favorites.

Classic Covers:: 10 I loved the inventive arrangements of familiar, traditional songs we all know by heart.  Even though I’ve heard them a thousand times, I want to hear them all over again Fernando-style!

Musical Score:: 6 Fernando uses piano interludes and backup vocals on one or two songs, but other than that, it’s usually kind of bare bones piano when he’s not singing.  Backup vocals add a lot but don’t overshadow Ortega’s simplistic vocal style, and the instrumental interludes are ornate and creative.  I love his simplicity, even though it doesn’t make for big points in this category.

Overall Holly Jolliness:: 9 Overall, this is a great album, and it definitely puts me in the Christmas spirit! More than anything, it’s a reflective album that helps me remember the REAL meaning of Christmas amid our other Christmas songs that mark our very cultural idea of Christmas.

Total score= 41.   If you’re getting a little tired of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, grab a copy of Christmas Songs and a cup of hot cocoa for a relaxing night by the fire.

Print copy of review.

To read our review guide lines, go here.

You can find Christmas Songs and the rest of our great “12 Days of Christmas Music” reviewed albums in Backseat Writer’s online store, Drive-By Shopping, under the “12 Days of Christmas Music” category!

Charlotte Sublett is a young woman who loves love and loves life.  After many years of training in classical voice and the consideration of a career in opera, Charlotte is now a sophomore psychology major at Wheaton College.  Some day, she’d like to open a private psychotherapy practice with the mission of helping hurting young women find God in the midst of their struggles.  Charlotte has an overwhelming number of passions in life, some of which include singing, writing, photography, painting & other art projects, theology, princess dresses, and anything that’s pink.  A proud Nashvillian and a true southern belle, she’s a stickler for etiquette and feels that every man should be forced to read Jane Austen.  Check out her theological & spiritual musings at her blog.

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