Kelley Hunt

REVIEW: Kelley Hunt “Winter Soulstice”


Kelley Hunt – Winter Soulstice

Nice big band sound will appeal to a broad range of tastes on this 10-cut Christmas/Holiday package that takes classic Christmas songs (“Go Tell It On the Mountain”) & infuses each with a jazzy thick appealing sound. Pianist, vocalist & arranger Kelley Hunt is wonderful on her first holiday CD. Despite performing the music with her jazzy arrangements, she never compromises the holiday spirit. She has it pinned down – both shoulders.

At the same time, her warm bluesy vocals are bright & confident. There’s a nice metropolitan snowy Park Avenue feel to the songs. It’s like Christmas 1945 & the world is renewed. Optimistic again. Nostalgia abounds & Saint Nick does exist in music like this.

Kelley Hunt

Kelley’s original “Ancient Bell,” is superb. Sung with the balladry skill of Ferron & Cris Williamson. Sung with brilliance, illuminating with lots of soulful cinnamon, hot chocolate, pine & fireplace scents. The song itself — beautiful, with The Wires: deep cello (Sascha Groschang) & Laurel Parks (violin). It’ll reach inside you where your emotions dwell. Hey, it’s Christmas.

Produced by Al Berman & Kelley in Kansas, the 40-minute Winter Soulstice (Dropped Nov 4–88 Records) finds her navigating various genres with her Christmas set. “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” is remarkable with soulful spiritual vocals, country pedal steel guitar (Philippe Bronchtein) & blues flavors. All impressive.

The original “You, You, You,” with its Melissa Ethridge-Bonnie Raitt tone set to the bluesy growl vamping of Elvis’ “Trouble,” & Kelley’s barrelhouse Jerry Lee Lewis piano sting. Nice touch. “Children Go Where I Send Thee,” & “Bright Lights,” are a hot send-up of gospel soul with Kelley’s smoking piano & definitive blues voice. Rollicking. The backup singers get into the pores of your skin & tickle your soul. This could be sung in a juke joint or a country church. Great arrangement & performance.

The overall showcase on this CD is stellar. The fibers of the melodies resonate throughout the notes that spill from every instrument. Guided by the fascinating tone & range that Kelley projects. This woman deserves a spotlight on major stages.

The songs are an inspired collection. You can hear it. They may be classic Christmas songs, yet Ms. Hunt rejuvenates them & makes them like you’re hearing them for the first time. I’d love to hear Ms. Hunt sing a Christmas duet with Johnny Mathis.


“Silent Night,” is rendered so soulful it’s chilling — especially with the addition of the deep bellow of Sacha’s cello.

The album is excellent. That’s it. I have nothing more to say. Just listen.

Musicians: Brandon Graves (drums/percussion), Wanda Jae & Allena Ross (vocals), Stan Kessler (trumpet), Ken Lovern (Hammond B3), Chris White (trombone) & Todd Wilkinson (tenor/baritone saxes/horn arrangements).

Highlights – “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” “Ancient Bell,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” “Children Go Where I Send Thee,” “Bright Lights,” “Still, Still, Still,” “Silent Night,” “You, You, You,” & absolutely beautiful “Auld Lang Syne.”

Image courtesy of Hearth PR/Kelley’s website. CD @

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