Grant Maloy Smith – The Christmas Heart – Roots Music For the Holidays
With just a suggestion of vocally being Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s soul brother but with a more accessible mainstream tonality, Grant Maloy Smith ambitiously sculpts an imaginative 10-track Christmas set. Kicked off with an original tune “All On Christmas Day” there’s little here that’s bombastic, silly, or novelty-oriented. The holiday song is a beauty, light on the country curves but heavy on the splendor that’s the holiday spirit.
From there through 8 classic tunes, 2 originals & each with savory Maloy-Smith treatments. Even the more religiously oriented melodies — “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” are moderately rendered so it’s easily appreciated. “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” is powered by a seasonal low cello & though many tunes aren’t commercially sweetened as pop-confections the delicate Grant touch is sincere & expressive throughout.
Produced by Grant The Christmas Heart (Drops Nov 4–Suburban Cowboy) features the Billboard Top 10 American Roots artist eschewing a top-heavy country-pop performance & instead follows the cool easily accessible stylings of the best of easy listening’s progenitors. Gustave Holst’s “In the Bleak Midwinter,” has a jazzy guitar, swishes of cymbals & added sax warmth all solidly suggest Grant Maloy Smith’s genuine ability to be a diversified entertainer with a wide range of interpretative skills.
The classic standard pop-Christmas tune “Joy To The World,” miraculously is re-invented by Smith who starts the song in classic fashion, then goes into overdrive to an upbeat exceptionally arranged rousing version that’s downright soulful. Then, Grant shifts into the poignant “O Holy Night” endowed with a Gospel-like flavor & excellent vocalizing. The Christian song is produced to speak easily to any religious domination through its well-conceived message. Because Smith’s voice isn’t wholly a religious showboating type of voice the notes he hits when he hits them are pure through a conscious effort to simply reach innocent ears.
Yeah, yeah, yeah it’s just another Christmas CD. But songs like these aren’t meant to be “performed” as entertainment. They each carry a message, an education, an enlightenment. Many singers don’t get passed the entertainment value, but Grant succeeds in an arresting voice to supplement the melodies by singing with the purest of motives. How do I know? Because his 2 originals stand up among the classics that surround them.
Musicians — Grant (Vocals/Piano/Electric Piano/Acoustic & Electric & Pedal Steel Guitars/Dobro/B3 Organ/Bass/Percussion/Vibes/Bgv), Sid Dirk (Drums), Thomas Hutchings (Sax), Matthew Burgess (Percussion), Matt Combs (Violin/Cello), Noshir Mody (Guitar on “In the Bleak Midwinter”) & Kimberly Fleming, Kim Mont, Judy Pancoast (backing vocals). “On This Day,” features Mitchel Smithey (Pedal Steel Guitar), Colin Alexander (Bass) & Mike Spay (Drums).
Highlights – “All On Christmas Day,” “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “Joy To The World,” “O Holy Night” “On This Day,” & “The First Noel.”
A 12-page stitched lyric insert is included. Photo courtesy of Grant Maloy Smith. CD @ https://grantmaloysmith.bandcamp.com/album/the-christmas-heart & https://www.grant-maloy-smith.com/
Enjoy our previous coverage here: REVIEW: Grant Maloy Smith Appalachia – American Stories