It’s December which means a lot of familiar holiday music coming back into the fold, and in my opinion, indie artists like Jekalyn Carr are giving us the biggest reason to pay attention to the holiday sounds of 2022. Though not a straight-up pop singer by conventional standards, Carr delivers one of the genre’s most interesting new holiday tracks in her latest single “Great Christmas” which has been raising quite a few eyebrows in critical circles lately (but not without due cause). “Great Christmas” employs her skills as a melodic vocalist and progressive R&B temptress with rhythm and rhymes that demand a higher grade of performance out of anyone who would attempt to manage them, and in the end, she emerges from her latest trip to the studio sounding like more of a star than she ever has before.
There is a lot of muscularity to this master mix, but no real overindulgences with regard to the substance of the main melody in the song. “Great Christmas” captures a rare combination of danceable grooves and surreal vocal decadences, and though it covers a lot of ground in the short period in which it occupies our stereos, the music here never sounds as though it were cut apart and refashioned to make a radio-ready single.
The backbone of this arrangement has much more in common with R&B than it does any other genre, but there’s undeniably a hint of crossover jazz tucked inside of the harmony our singer conjures up with immense ease. Carr is completely comfortable with her surroundings here, creating an environment with the verses in which the melodies sound natural and unrestrained despite a lack of indulgence in the big picture. There hasn’t been nearly as much moxie out of her contemporaries as I would have preferred this Christmas season, and it’s for this reason that a standout single like this one feels as special as it does right now. Not only is this singer demonstrating her worth on a couple of different levels, but she’s creating a relationship with her audience through a seasonal harmony as familiar as an old hymn.
Jekalyn Carr came to my attention not too long before this single and its video were getting ready to drop, but in the short time that has passed between then and now, I’ve come to enjoy her approach to musicality quite a bit. She’s got an originality to her artistry that is difficult for any pop lover to dismiss as being anything other than a diamond in the rough, and if there were any doubts as to whether or not she has what it takes to become a superstar before the release of “Great Christmas,” I think they’re going to be effectively put to bed as this track gets into steady rotation on indie radio this year. This isn’t just a feel-good track, but a song that tells us we should be very excited about what the future still has in store for its creator, and overall it’s put me in the mood for the holiday season as few new singles have.