Merrill LeffmannArtist Merrill Leffmann releases New and Old Christmas Classics CD


Merrill Leffmann is a vocal teacher who gives singing lessons in Scottsdale, Arizona. She’s also an accomplished singer/songwriter recording artist who plays cabaret and specialty shows around the Phoenix area. Her latest release is a delightful Christmas CD entitled “New and Old Christmas Classics.” This 12-song Christmas CD contains 7 original and 5 cover songs. In her own words:


So I selected 7 of my favorite originals – songs I think have staying power, not just for the season I release them, but through the decades.  Having seen who I am, you understand that they are, of course, in many styles.  There’s big band sexy, classic crooner, country, classical, funny bluegrass, and one – perhaps my best from a songwriter’s perspective – that I can’t classify.


Each style, each song, expresses something the others could not – a complete moment, like looking into and suddenly experiencing what it is to be inside a snapshot.  Some of the snapshots are silly or laugh-out-loud funny.  Others are of contentment, exuberance, sadness, reverence. It is a time capsule of the holidays.


The CD gently creates the classic Cabaret musical environment right away with Track 1 “I Love a Man in Uniform” with its jazzy groove, horns and vocal exuberance from Leffmann. This song benefits well from a powerful generation of musicians with similar interests in classic jazz but varying tastes still appealing to modern contemporary folks. With a sound ranging from Big Band, Saloon Jazz and classic Cabaret, Leffman delivers a unique yet inviting sound that translates well to the listener. Track 2 “Dumped Before Christmas” is another clever yet, alluring track with 50’s style rockabilly guitars and well placed harmonies from Leffmann and company. Leffmann clearly has an impressive vocal skillet extremely compatible to this style of music. Tack 3 “December” brings in Piano and eloquent string movements thus creating a timeless love song that will make you dance; getting you I the mood for Christmas.


The first 3 tracks offer the perfect background for a Holiday CD package. Each piece of the 12 set is impressive. While every track on “New and Old Christmas Classics” delivers quality worthy of many listens there are a few things about this CD that stand out. Each song is short and sweet, but Leffmann does a good job at combining classic Christmas covers with her own music. I have many Christmas CD’s where the artist just performs cover songs thus lacking any original material. Brave to Leffman for going the extra mile and writing her own music, and also putting the actual word Christmas on the album. The musicianship is amazing offering much in the way of musical variety and touches.


The CD also skillfully combines classic Cabaret Jazz with the Christmas theme. Also present are Rockabilly, Folk, Earthy acoustics and pop. Finally the amazing vocal touches from Leffman just brings the whole thing together via her fun and whimsical charm. CD ends on a impassioned note with an impressive acoustic remake of “Silent Night.”


Criticism: Track 6 “You’re a mean one Mr’ Grinch” contains a few awkward at best moments where Leffmann is narrating with an accent. Bringing in a male baritone for this vocal accompaniment. would have been perfect. Track 7 “ Every Year” is a winded track overall. CD cover art seems a bit off kilter to me.


Top Tracks: I’ve Got my Love to Keep me Warm, Dumped Before Christmas, I Love a Man in Uniform, Silent Night


“New and Old Christmas Classics” by Merrill Leffmann truly showcases a some incredible moments that portray true emotion and will evoke a strong reaction and cause you to feel something powerful this Christmas. The keys and notes fall smoothly with every second that passes by and it is as if these notes and words were meant for each other. The acoustic and slow rhythmic pace of all tracks really show of the softer side of Christmas as well.  Leffman possesses an immense amount of talent and creativity here. “New and Old Christmas Classics” by Merrill Leffmann is a melodic sultry CD with upbeat and festive undertones making for a great Christmas experience all around.

Score 4.5/5


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Gwen Waggoner edited by J.J. McCall

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