Johnny Reid puts his faith in Christmas (with video)

November 25, 2013 5:14 PM

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Johnny Reid puts his faith in Christmas (with video)

Canadian country-pop crooner echoes cherished childhood memories in new holiday album

In 2009, the Scottish-born Canadian country-pop crooner released his first festive offering, Christmas, which included favourites like I'll Be Home For Christmas, Jingle Bell Rock and Blue Christmas - all delivered with a hefty dose of country and rock swing.

For this year's A Christmas Gift To You, which takes Reid on a cross-country tour that kicks off in Victoria and Vancouver (Nov. 20-21), Reid has cranked it up a notch with the help of uber producer Bob Ezrin. His latest Christmas helping oozes with strings and choir voices and bombast, while focusing mainly on religious traditionals and tried and true Christian classics.

If his first attempt at a Christmas album felt closer to his roots musically, his second is closer to his deep spiritual side, the multiple Juno-winning singer said in a recent interview.

"The first Christmas album speaks closer to my childhood: Santa Claus and reindeers and Chuck Berry," Reid said with his trademark Scottish burr. "The last record was a real kitchen party, real rock 'n' roll - a festive holiday album, if you will. But I've always wanted to make a true Christmas record - basically the opposite of the previous record. I wanted it to sound grand and epic."

Ezrin, whose claims to fame include producing massive hits for Pink Floyd, Kiss and Alice Cooper, brings a grandiose sense of production to A Christmas Gift To You, an album that is sonically miles away from Reid's first Christmas effort and oozes with a more solemn - yet pop-driven - sense of style.

There are no Frostys or Rudolphs to be found on A Christmas Gift To You. Rather, Reid uses his well-worn voice to emote the familiar notes of O Holy Night, Mary Did You Know, Little Drummer Boy and Silent Night.

"I was talking to a label person in Toronto and they were saying, 'So you're making a holiday album.' And I said, 'No I'm making a Christmas record.' It was really important to me to make a real Christmas record.

"They sort of equally remind me of my childhood. One reminds me of the innocence and magic of the season. This new album takes me to a different place in my childhood: A place walking down over to the parish and singing O Come All Ye Faithful. I wanted to make a reverend record."

You can hear the quiet trepidation in his voice as he describes the smell of the coal furnace and the sight of his mom preparing tea and breakfast, the rustle of the wrapping paper as he and his brother tear through the presents under the tree - presents that their father, a mechanic by trade, had slaved over to earn enough money for.

It's a feeling he has carried over into his adulthood, one he now shares with his four children who split their time with Reid between Nashville and Toronto.

"Because of what I do for a living, I really respect the time we have," Reid said. "It's the same, I'm sure, for a lot of other people. One of my favourite things to do come Christmas morning is to get a cup of tea or a cup of cocoa and sit on the couch and watch them open up their presents.


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