Marc Martel – Hark!

Independent

Release Date: November 12th 2021

Reviewed by: Joshua Andre

Marc MartelHark! (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Welcome to Our World (feat. Leigh Nash)
  2. Blue Christmas (feat. Joe Bonamassa)
  3. Zat’ You, Santa Claus? (feat. Jared James Nichols)
  4. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  5. Last Christmas (feat. Arnel Pineda)
  6. What Are You Doing New Years Eve?

Every knows Marc Martel as ‘that guy’. The guy who sounds like Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Maybe not everyone knows him- but if I direct you to this clip of Marc’s audition for the Queen tribute band in 2011; would you know him now? I wrote a blog about Marc at the beginning of 2020, so if you want to know more about Marc, then you can read about it in the blog. But let me tell you- while the world may know Marc for him uncanny and eerie resemblance to on of the most unique voices in music history- I reckon where Marc has shined the most, not just vocally but also in line with his personal beliefs, is in his Christmas albums. Sure, the Queen stuff is great and nostalgic, but when it all boils down to it, Marc is a devoted Christian, with his mission being first and foremost to make Jesus’ name famous in whatever sphere of influence he is in. With Marc having released 3 Christmas EP’s (The Silent Night, The First Noel and Christmastime Is Here) culminating in a release called The Christmas Collection in 2019; one could roll their eyes at the discovery of Marc being so devout a believer that he had to release 21 Christmas songs packaged together in one album- isn’t that overkill you might ask? Well actually I for one though love Christmas music, and would listen to holiday tunes all year long if I could; and even in Marc’s Christmas songs we hear a wide variety of musical genres. And now that I’ve got that disclaimer out of the way, let me say that Marc is a busy, busy guy- even in the pandemic. In 2020, he dropped his Christmas EP Thank God It’s Christmas; and some might say that more Christmas songs from Marc isn’t that exciting anymore. But let me say that Thank God It’s Christmas is extremely fitting and much needed here this year, as we all rediscover the reason for the season. Marc then carries this theme of closeness, vulnerability, honesty and reminding us of the true reason for the season in his next EP- his fifth Christmas EP in total. Hark! released not too long ago, and can I just let you know how inspiring, moving and thought-provoking it is?

Opening the 6 song EP is the Chris Rice penned “Welcome To Our World”, originally recorded by CCM legend Michael W. Smith. On this melody, which doesn’t hold a candle to the original version from Smitty, but is nonetheless still compelling, powerful, moving, honest and vulnerable; Marc sings beautifully with Leigh Nash (of Sixpence None The Richer), and imparts to us a stirring and passionate song about welcoming Jesus into our world in a manger. Singing a prayer of thanks and gratitude, this song reminds me just how prolific Michael is as a singer (as well as Marc and Leigh); while the unexpected additional chorus of “Gloria” (or “Angels We Have Heard On High”) is a pleasant surprise. “Blue Christmas”, with American rock guitarist extraordinaire Joe Bonamassa, is next, and is isn’t meant to replace Elvis’s version of the iconic holiday song, but rather complements it and is a great version to listen to alongside the original version; while Marc also presents to us Louis Armstrong’s cover of “Zat’ You, Santa Claus?”- an obscure holiday track but still a vibrant, fun-filled and joyous track about the holidays nonetheless, a tongue in cheek track about Santa and his busy schedule. The worshipful carol and title track follows, and is a subdued, reflective and tender moment of unbridled worship and adoration to our Lord and Saviour; while Marc joins forces with Journey frontman Arnel Pineda for a powerful and exquisite cover of George Michael’s “Last Christmas”. Hark! then ends with the iconic and legendary Ella Fitzgerald jazz tune “What Are You Doing New Years Eve”, proving to us that Marc is a man for all musical genres.

With Marc Martel becoming his own person musically after splitting from Downhere and recording his new solo material, Hark! is a fitting and well-timed reminder of Jesus’ coming to earth and saving us all from ourselves. This Christmas (and also this year while we’re all feeling reflective and introspective at home), instead of the hustle and the bustle, let us sit and reflect on what Jesus has done for us- and Marc’s EP is another great step in getting us on the contemplative mood. Well done Marc, your latest Christmas project is top notch, and I can’t wait to see what’s next in 2022. Maybe another all new original studio album… don’t you all think that’s a genius idea?

3 songs to listen to: Welcome To Our World, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Last Christmas

Score: 4.5/5

RIYL: Queen, David Bowie, The Beatles, dc Talk, Jars Of Clay, ACDC, Needtobreathe, Kevin Max, Rich Mullins

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