Nick Mattera | Viva Christmas (s/r)

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The singer brings a bit of himself to “Blue Christmas,” slowing it down to an instrumental ballad which perfectly fits his voice.

 
It’s a curious decision, self-releasing a holiday EP. But when the singer’s a longtime favorite—a few years back, Nick Mattera fronted the brilliant Los Vegas indie rock band Big Bad Zero—it moves beyond curious into an unexpected and welcome gift.
Mattera kicks off the covers EP with “Happy Christmas (War Is Over).” It’s stays fairly true to the original, but with Mattera’s slightly nasally delivery and an altered outro of “Let this war be over/ we don’t want it.” Next up, he takes a gamble with “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” the ’80s staple by Band Aid—virtually a who’s who of 1980s pop music. Though we’re used to multiple singers, Mattera’s lone voice translates pretty well, the song suffering a bit by otherwise not varying much from the original.
The singer brings a bit of himself to “Blue Christmas,” slowing it down to an instrumental ballad which perfectly fits his voice. Next up, “Last Christmas” rocks a bit more than the original version by Wham!; its quicker pace neither benefits nor harms the song. Saving the best for last, Mattera’s delivery of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” is gorgeous—but then, I’ve yet to hear anyone butcher such a beautiful number.
Viva Christmas marks a welcome return by Nick Mattera, who released a regular EP at the same time (also reviewed by us). If you’re a fan of BBZ, Christmas songs or a combination of the two, it will be a welcome addition to your holiday library. B | Laura Hamlett

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