I began this cycle of Christmas Present with a selection of “Wonderful Christmastime” by The Shins. Let’s end the cycle with another take. This time, the artist is Straight No Chaser, which brings Paul McCartney into the mix, giving this edition a nod from the man who originally brought the song to life.
Straight No Chaser’s roots go back to the mid 1990s at Indiana University, but it wasn’t until about a decade later that the a capella group was noticed and signed. Much of their recorded repertoire has been of holiday music, and the group excels with the material.
Earlier this year, they released “Under the Influence,” which included collaborations with artists, doing a capella versions of their hits. For the holidays, the “Under the Influence: Holiday Edition” EP saw the group doing holiday classics with their creators, leading to the McCartney collaboration.
It’s kind of fun seeing McCartney return to his song with a different sort of vibe, and the a capella group does the song proper justice. If you don’t have “Under the Influence,” the “Ultimate Edition” pairs both releases together for one price, and is worth the cost.
I love their collaboration with Dolly Parton on one of her biggest hits, “Jolene.” Parton is still in top form, and the backing vocals are arranged in a way that lets Parton shine.
Meanwhile, another a capella group, Pentatonix, which I featured here last year, updated their Christmas release, “PTXmas” with a new deluxe edition this year, adding two new tracks. If you haven’t picked up the holiday release from them yet, better to get the deluxe edition at this point.