Seth McFarlane - Holiday for Swing!
Just in time for the holidays, Seth McFarlane delivers his second album, a swing take on Christmas classics. Now, I know you may be thinking, “Wait, Family Guy Seth McFarlane?” and yes, you would be correct. Despite his knack for writing some of the best and offensive jokes in animated television today, the charismatic writer/producer/director can really sing. Citing the Great American Songbook as one of his largest inspirations, McFarlane's baritone voice would sound right at home in the 50's or 60's, and he has had the privilege of being trained by and worked with some of the greatest composers and vocal coaches today, including those who've worked with Sinatra and Streisand, to name a few. Not only does McFarlane perform some fantastic duets with well known female artists, he enlists the help of a whopping 65 piece orchestra to really give the album that big band feel.
Starting with the classic 'Let It Snow,' McFarlane truly gives us a sense of Christmas joy and happiness, as you can practically hear the smile he wears while singing these traditional favorites. 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' is soft and lovely, embodying the spirit of the sentimental verses. In 'Little Jack Frost' McFarlane again teams up with Norah Jones, giving us a fun and whimsical version of this classic. Tracks like 'Marshmallow World' and 'Mele Kalikimaka' are light and cheeky and will definitely have you singing along with cheer. The second duet on the album is a sweet and candied version of 'Baby It's Cold Outside', featuring Sara Bareilles, whose vocals play perfectly off of McFarlanes'.
I really like the idea that not all Christmas albums have to feature the most popular carols, and McFarlane picks some of the more lesser known songs about winter in general to really give himself the berth he needs to support his vocal range. 'Warm in December' and 'Moonlight in Vermont' are perfect examples of this, giving us lovely songs to listen to as we are curled up by the fire, under the glow of a twinkling tree. Taking cues from such acts as Kay Starr and Mel Torme, McFarlane wows with his performances of 'Everybody's Waiting for the Man with the Bag' and 'The Christmas Song,' really proving his passion for the genre and enthusiasm for big band productions.
McFarlane's first album was well done and surprised me when I first heard it, and I was happy to learn that he had released another one, despite it being a themed album. I am a huge fan of Family Guy and have heard McFarlane sing as his many respective characters, but with this album he gives to us his own genuine self, and I really respect him for that. This album will absolutely be making its way into my regular holiday rotation, and I would recommend it make its way into yours as well.