Right on schedule for the holidays, Marc Martel delivers his freshest collection of Christmas and holiday songs, the Hark! EP, to add to his expanding yuletide music collection. More than ever before, Martel leans into collaborations with talented artists on this latest six-track EP. Leigh Nash, of Sixpence None The Richer, guitarists Joe
Right on schedule for the holidays, Marc Martel delivers his freshest collection of Christmas and holiday songs, the Hark! EP, to add to his expanding yuletide music collection. More than ever before, Martel leans into collaborations with talented artists on this latest six-track EP. Leigh Nash, of Sixpence None The Richer, guitarists Joe Bonamassa and Jarad James Nichols, as well as Journey frontman, Arnel Pineda, all lend their unique voices and instrumental stylings to making the Hark! EP Martel’s most eclectic and exciting Christmas offering yet.
The album kicks off with a moving duet with Leigh Nash, who topped the charts in 1998 with her band’s song “Kiss Me,” on Chris Rice’s “Welcome To Our World.” The blend of Nash and Martel’s vocals on this moving track, wrapped in all the Christmassy bells and whistles (and children’s choir!), and produced by Jordan Wiberg, takes this beloved modern hymn to new heights, incorporating big production and a chorus of “Gloria, in excelsis deo!” “Welcome To Our World feat. Leigh Nash” will also be served to Christian Radio for the 2021 Christmas season.
British producer, Warren Huart (The Fray, Aerosmith, Ace Frehley), takes on three of Hark!’s tracks, giving the EP an earthier feel than than we’ve heard from Martel as of late. On “Blue Christmas,” Joe Bonamassa, one the world’s foremost blues artists, stamps his masterful sound over Martel’s intricate vocal arrangement. The track harkens just enough to the familiar Elvis version, but gushes plenty with unique flare to set it apart. Up and coming blues/rock artist, Jarad James Nichols makes a commanding appearance on the Satchmo favorite, “‘Zat You, Santa Claus?” which, it’s safe to say, could be the standout of the Hark! EP. With a grinchesque feel, Martel and Nichols put their own spin on this lighthearted, very fun track, gushing with personality and featuring not only Nichols’ unique guitar skills, but full band and horn section. Huart’s producing contribution rounds out with a duet with Arnel Pineda, who rocketed to fame by becoming the new frontman for the legendary rock band, Journey. Martel and Pineda take turns shining and harmonizing on Wham!’s signature Christmas classic, “Last Christmas.” The 80s schmaltz of the original is totally reimagined on a foundation of real instruments, along with a haunting string arrangement. And finally, the world gets to hear what Freddie Mercury and Steve Perry might have sounded like on a duet!
For the final two tracks, Martel mounts his own self-productions of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and the romantic post-Christmas “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” Martel’s much softer, cozier performances on these brings an artful balance of atmosphere to the EP, and do well at anchoring the Hark! EP into his previous repertoire of holiday recordings.