Los Lonely Boys | Christmas Spirit (Epic)

cd_los-lonely.jpgThe most jaw-dropping track on the album is without a doubt Los Lonely Boys’ version of "Carol of the Bells."







Any Los Lonely Boys fan knows their sound when they hear it. They also know that, for this San Antonio, Texas, band of brothers, their family—la familia—and heritage are part of who they are, both as individuals and as a band. For their holiday album, Christmas Spirit, they’ve taken who they are as individuals and placed it in a traditionally Anglo-Christian set of songs, and made their music even better.

"I’ve Longed for Christmas" starts out the album with that typical Los Lonely Boys sound of light rock and that distinguishable LLB guitar that electrifies the background. An original by the band, it helps break up the monotony of becoming just another album with the same cover songs as every other Christmas CD. The second track, "She’ll Be My Everything for Christmas," is another original from the band and has the exact same effect. Both songs are fast and get the listener ready for what is to come: the traditional tracks. This sprinkle of new Christmas songs helps make the album that would otherwise have some great performances but wouldn’t demonstrate the true depth of their talent. Los Lonely Boys has proven with this album that they can cover some of the hardest covers, as well as write and perform original music that doesn’t sound like just a filler—something that seems hard to come by from many mainstream artists these days.

The most jaw-dropping track on the album is without a doubt Los Lonely Boys’ version of "Carol of the Bells." The group takes one of the most dramatic Christmas songs known and somehow makes them appear even more entertaining and somehow a little sexy—the latter an aspect one would not necessarily want in a Christmas song, but somehow they pull it off. The track boasts Santana-like guitar work that showcases the band’s talent unlike anything else I’ve heard from them. It’s a shame, since the album is a Christmas album, meaning many people who aren’t already LLB fans will miss out on the impeccable display of talent that was put into this album, and especially this song. It’s obvious the band wasn’t looking to make another simple and boring Christmas CD. What could have easily become just another collection of traditional Christmas covers has instead become a thought-provoking album, taking on a life of its own, making you forget it’s still a Christmas album.

Christmas Spirit takes a tumble right around "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," but makes up for it by following it up a little later with "Feliz Navidad," originally performed and composed by José Feliciano. Their sweet, south-of-the-border instrumental version of "Silent Night" makes you forget the true meaning of the song and becomes a simple yet surreal piece of music. The soothing guitar relaxes you slowly out of the album and leaves you wanting more, and ready to start it over. 

The greatest part of the album is the fact that Los Lonely Boys know who they are—they rock it as always, and they don’t make any excuses or change anything about their style for this, their first Christmas album. Los Lonely Boys rock Christmas using their heritage as an inspirational flavor to season some of the season’s most memorable songs. Christmas Spirit is a perfect example of how thinking outside the box and doing things in your own way can pay off, and this album pays off tremendously. Singing the songs in their own way, they add a more comfy and cozy feeling to the music—exactly what you want for a holiday as family-centered as Christmas. B+ | Jennifer Manjarez

RIYL: Los Lobos, Santana, The Jeff Healey Band

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