Shellee Coley's Somber Tidings Of Comfort And Joy
Shellee Coley is an acoustic siren with an amazingly haunting voice, and one of the many talented acts in the Magnolia Red family. Her debut album, The Girl the Stencil Drew, was a soft, sad, sweet spinning disc of delightfully dark ironies that we still cannot believe didn't make it into our nominations for album of the year.
One year later, we've yet to see a full-length album or even another EP, resulting in the grinding of many teeth. However, Coley has put together a nice little Christmas ditty produced by Jeffery Armstreet, and to top it all off the track is being released free on her Web site.
The track is a cover of the classic Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." The original author is unknown, but it's been appearing in Christmas songbooks since the mid-1800s. Artists from Ella Fitzgerald to Iron Butterfly have taken a crack at it. Bing Crosby himself got the ball rolling for popular artists on the song in 1945, and this year both Annie Lennox and the cast of the Fox series Glee released versions.
In our opinion, Coley's somber little rendition tops them all.
"My friend Dave Donahoo, who also plays guitar in my band, suggested trying out different Christmas songs one day to throw into a set for a local coffee shop," says Coley. "I have always loved the darker, more haunting-sounding Christmas music - [I'm] not much for jingle and cheer - so when we started playing this one, my heart just sort of fell in love again with this song.
"We did it for that live set and people liked it so much we thought, 'Hey, let's record it!'"
And record it they did in a quick and dirty session done in Magnolia Red's writing room. Unfortunately, Armstreet tells us no further Christmas releases are planned from the Magnolia Red team, though they are gearing up to releases an EP by Iowa Park and an LP by Mason Lankford and the Folk Family early next year.