Carly Rae Jepsen – Carly’s Christmas Classics (EP)

604 Records

Release Date: November 19th 2021

Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre

Carly Rae JepsenCarly’s Christmas Classics (EP) (iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. It’s Not Christmas Till Someone Cries
  2. Last Christmas
  3. Let It Snow
  4. Mittens

‘…Carly’s influence goes far beyond ‘Call Me Maybe’, even though a lot of people just listen to that particular song, and don’t investigate more. I know I was like that for quite some time. It was not until recently where I’ve realised that one song doesn’t blanket an entire career. And for that, I took the plunge and listened, and boy I was surprised in the best way possible. While as a whole Carly’s music isn’t as accessible now, nor is it in a way that attracts people now as it did back when ‘Call Me Maybe’ and the surrounding songs were released. And maybe that’s the point- Carly has evolved to become a synth/EDM/pop artist, totally different in every good way to her KISS days. But then again, will she make another folksy album a la Tug of War in the future? Maybe, maybe not. But what will remain is her heart to create music that matters. Carly’s determination to deliver music that impacts people’s lives and their souls, is what makes her presence much more evident and felt, in an industry that is not really having people’s lives at the centre of their motivations. Nevertheless, we are here in 2020, and Carly’s music I’m sure has impacted your own life at one point or another. It may be in fact ‘Call Me Maybe’ that set someone onto a course of digging deeper in their own lives, and that’s good. Or it could be any one of Carly’s other songs, and that’s good too. And as I finish this post, let me just ask this one thing- which song has impacted you the most out of the songs from Carly’s career? Have you written her off as just a one-hit wonder, only listening to ‘Call Me Maybe’ and that’s it? Carly’s music, from hearing it this past week, is much more than the miniscule lens we look through, and regardless of how puzzled you may be, that Carly herself is in my own Top 100 Influential artists list, as we look deeper into her music, it may not necessarily be the most puzzling of it all. Placing Carly in this list actually makes sense. Her lyrics emotive and heartfelt, her songs catchy but also deep and meaningful. This Canadian is not stopping anytime soon, and if Carly continues to make music in a similar vein to that of EMOTION or Dedicated in the upcoming years ahead, then this world will be all the better for it…’

This above quote is taken verbatim from my very own blog post that I wrote in October 2020 about Carly Rae Jepsen and her impact and influence on pop music over the last decade or so. And while even around a year and a bit after I wrote this blog post, I’m still trying to figure out why and how I wrote about Carly’s impact, considering that she wasn’t even considered to be placed on the list of Influential Artists, a mere week prior to me writing the blog post about her; the fact of the matter remains- that Carly’s music is so much more than the one song that everybody knows, ‘Call Me Maybe’, and if people were to just go a little deeper and explore her music without any preconceived ideas or bias, then maybe, just maybe, listeners could realise and understand that Carly music is quite possibly one of the most underrated within the last decade. Songs like ‘Call Me Maybe’, ‘Good Time’, ‘Run Away With Me’, ‘I Really Like You’, ‘Curiosity’, ‘Cut to the Feeling’, ‘Now That I Found You’, ‘Let’s Be Friends’ and ‘Too Much’ are just some of Carly’s songs that have made an impact in years gone by, while I firmly believe that Carly’s 2015 album EMOTION is by far one of the decade’s most underrated pop album…period!

And so when Carly unveiled her 4-song EP Carly’s Christmas Classics in November 2021, I figured I’d say a few things about this release, because…well, who doesn’t love great holiday music? This site also reviewed Carly’s 2019 and 2020 albums Dedicated Side A and Dedicated Side B respectively, here; so, it’s fitting to ‘review’ this album as well, right? Standing at 4 songs, Carly scrapped the bottom of the barrel and released this ‘compilation’ album just in time for the second Christmas the world has experienced with COVID-19. And releasing a ‘compilation’ album of sorts, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Carly’s most recent studio album is Dedicated Side B was unveiled in 2020, and this 2021 compilation has recordings from 2010 and 2011 (‘Let it Snow’, ‘Mittens’), and maybe that’s the point. Because of this EP, and hearing these songs, has made me appreciate music that keeps getting older, and recognising and realising that songs that are older than others can still be impactful. ‘It’s Not Christmas Till Someone Cries’ was originally from the standalone single unveiled in 2020, and being the first song on the EP, gives us a sobering look at Christmas in a way of us realising that Christmas can be a terrible time for people around the world, and that in some extreme cases, people do need to cry, let off steam, and lament on a year that was. The title of the song ‘It’s Not Christmas Till Someone Cries’ isn’t a morbid look at how the theme of it is supposed to go, but rather a moment for us to understand, that sometimes crying is needed during a season of Christmas. Yes, crying is associated with loss, heartbreak, and lament, but crying can also be from a place of hope, joy, contentment, fulfillment, and happiness. Someone will cry in your family during Christmas- and someone’s crying can also happen on the inside too. This song is a great reminder for us all- to recognise that crying, be it out of hurt or out of hope, places things all in perspective. Tears and crying can lay out all your emotions, but it can also give us strength to keep going and allow ourselves to heal as well. Well done Carly for such a therapeutic song, one that is much needed, especially now during COVID-19.

Throughout the rest of the EP, we see Carly give to us some of her favourite Christmas songs she’s recorded over the years, as a way for to hear soothing and heartfelt music, during such an uncertain and difficult holiday season. ‘Last Christmas’, originally recorded in the 1980s by WHAM!, is given the Carly Rae treatment, complete with a saxophone, looping percussion and a ‘fadeout’, as we see this song covered for the gazillionth time, presented in a way that allows us to enjoy the song all the more. Merging together modern musical techniques (electronic percussion) with some earlier pop instrumentation (because frankly, is there anything pop right now that incorporates the saxophone, properly?) is definitely an art, and Carly’s rendition manages to fuse different styles of pop, quite nicely. ‘Let it Snow’ follows along from ‘Last Christmas’, and this track is presented as an acoustic track, with acoustic guitars, hand claps, a light snare drum and whistling, and a great reminder that a song like ‘Let It Snow’ doesn’t always have to have the ‘snowlike’ treatment that a lot of other artists do. Whatever cover of the song I listen to, they make this track the most ‘wintery’- with bells and whistles and shakers, so it’s nice to hear a version of ‘Let It Snow’ like this- just guitars and a light atmosphere, and for me not to be reminded everytime of white Christmases every time I hear this. The EP is then rounded out by ‘Mittens’- a song about the longing of being near family, friends and loved ones during this season of peace, love, hope and togetherness and how sometimes, the possibility of being with family is in fact, well…not possible. ‘Mittens’ is the exploration of someone wanting mittens (but it can be a metaphor for any other clothing, or just any kind of company of someone else other than the person they want to be with) so that they don’t realise the loneliness and emptiness they feel without the special someone they care about. Yes, mittens are fine, and yes, the company of other people during Christmas is fine. But it’s not the same as being with the people you want to be with, every year. A song that allows us to contemplate our own lives and see if we want to fellowship and commune with other people during Christmastime; ‘Mittens’ encourages us to cherish relationships, and to remind ourselves that Christmas is a time for people to come together, and that as comfortable and content we are during this holiday season, there are other people longing for ‘mittens’- maybe we need to extend hospitality when this December comes around? Just a thought.

Carly’s music is unique and different, it’s quirky and fun, but in this Christmas EP, we see the versatility and emotion in these 4 songs. While Carly herself may not necessarily be the most popular musician right now, her craft still has merit and meaning, as we see this EP remind us that she’s still here and going. I guess during this COVID-19 world we live in, there seems to be a sense of urgency that people place upon musicians…because I know I have. Carly’s latest full-length album was released back in 2020, and yet I feel at times, that that was a long time ago…but it wasn’t. Because of COVID, we’ve become more consumers of music, and thus listening to music at a faster rate, feel as though we need music to release at a faster rate too, so that we can consume it, and thus the cycle repeats. Nevertheless, Carly’s new EP isn’t really new (two of her songs were released about 10 years ago, the other two in 2020 and 2015), but new enough for us to hope that she does a new album soon. Regardless on when there’s a new album from Carly, one thing is for sure- her music still matters, even a long time after ‘Call Me Maybe’. And if her next album is just as emotive as both Dedicated Side A or Dedicated Side B, or even this Christmas EP, then her best albums are in front of her! Well done Carly for this EP, looking forward to whatever comes next, whenever that may be.

2 songs to listen to: Last Christmas, It’s Not Christmas Till Someone Cries

Score: 4/5

RIYL: Rachel Platten, Owl City, Justin Bieber, Britt Nicole, Delta Goodrem, Echosmith

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