US soul vocalist Kelly Moneymaker releases double Christmas single for charity

Fans of great historic soul singers may already be aware of the excellent Kelly Moneymaker. Following ably in the footsteps of vocalists such as Aretha Franklin, her rasping tone and huge power is enough to give anyone a run for their money.

This Christmas, Kelly Moneymaker has turned those vocal and soul talents to two festive singles, as heard above. Of course, the classic ‘Jingle Bells’ is instantly recogniseable, albeit performed in Moneymaker’s jazzy soul style. ‘Home for the Holidays’ meanwhile is a lovely original number, sharing memories of Christmas past in a heartwarming fashion.

Equally heartwarming, both singles are raising money for a good cause. Each copy bought equals a donation to NRDC.org & Polar Bears International, providing research on population, habitat, maternal den studies, body condition, aid policy-makers, research/eduction on effects of greenhouse gases. Particularly pertinent given the mild winter we’re having right now…

iTunes: Home For the Holidays / Jingle Bells

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Kelly Moneymaker wows on new album ‘Stone’

When track number one of your album is the soulful, upbeat ”Skippin’ Stones’ – which can be heard above – then the early indications are you’re on to a winner. The good news for US singer Kelly Moneymaker, is that those early indications are correct.

The 12 tracks that follow are just as joyful, and just as full of energy. They don’t all have this pace, because a bit of light and shade is needed to stop things becoming monotonous.

However, whether the songs are fleet of foot (‘Skippin’ Stones’, ‘Mudslide’), mid-tempo (‘Campin’ Song’) or slow (‘You Know How To Love Me’), this feels like a celebration. A celebration of soul, rock and roll and an epic vocal performance from Moneymaker.

Daniel Koek album ‘High’ out now

Comprising 12 tracks of straight pop with great depth and tone, Australian vocalist Daniel Koek has released a new album titled ‘High’ (available on iTunes now).

Dominated by Koek’s spectacular vocals, the album is a great showcase for a performer who recently ended his run in the West End and Les Miserables’ Jean Valjean. It’s no surprise that he has a great voice then, but the album has much more than that to offer.

With a serious tone to match the serious talent, the songs unfold gradually, many of them building to huge final choruses having started quietly. This formula, far from being predictable, allows that stellar vocal to develop track after track. The backing, ranging from simple acoustic moments to full horn, strings and orchestral sections, is brilliantly recorded, each tiny nuance adding an impressive whole.

The song selection is good too. Presumably chosen and arranged to compliment Koek’s voice, the collection of pre-existing pop hits, musical numbers and classical pieces suit him perfectly. In particular, the evenly paced ‘You’re the Only Place’ gives a lot of room for an operatic-pop vocal, while ‘Always and Forever’ is a fittingly heartfelt closer to a very good listen. Top track honours however probably go to the new, double layered arrangement of classic Les Mis song ‘Bring Him Home’, featuring the vocal not only of Koek but guest Jonathan Ansell.

Pop music aficionados rejoice.