1. I Wish It Was Christmas
2. The First Noel
3. Come Sunday
4. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
5. What A Wonderful World
6. Angel's Carol
7. Last Christmas
8. If Anybody Ask You
10. Maria durch ein Dornwald ging
11. In The Bleak Midwinter
12. Who Would Imagine A King
13. Det brinner en stjarna
14. O helga natt (O Holy Night)
15. O du sal iga - O du frohl iche
It was December 2005 when Landgren fulfilled a lifelong dream, gathering some of his friends from the Swedish music scene and playing Christmas music in a Stockholm church. The resulting album, "Christmas With My Friends", was released the following winter and quickly went gold in both Sweden and Germany. A second such album was released in 2008 and a third in 2012. "Christmas With My Friends IV" will be released this year. The release date in Sweden and Germany will come October 31 or thereabouts, with release in the UK slated for November 10. It's likely to take a while before its available domestically.
There are several things that make Nils Landgren's Christmas performances and albums rise above. First, there's a personal warmth that makes one feel welcome and relaxed. Second, he has no boundries on the music he selects--there's a whole world of Christmas music from the last two thousand years. Nils will include the ancient carols, Swedish Folk music, Tin Pan Alley classics, 60s hits, old spirituals, new Indie Rock; if it's got a beautiful melody, Nils will find it. Third, Nils allows his "friends" to put their imprint on the songs they're featured on. So, for example, Jeanette Kohn's selections are approached as classical, Sharon Dyall's performances have the feel of an Odetta-like Folk Blues, Jessica Pilnas and Ida Sand give their performances a bit of soul, and Johan Norberg brings his Indie Folk influence to the proceedings. At the end of the day, the program is varied yet cohesive--seasoned with Jazz flourishes, of course, but always accessible to the hearts and minds of all.
The upcoming edition of "Christmas With My Friends", like its predecessors, features a diverse playlist. There are the traditional carols, "The First Noel" and "O Holy Night", traditional standards like "Santa Claus Is Comung To Town", Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday", the ancient German Folk song "Maria durch ein Dornwald ging", Odetta's spiritual "If Anybody Ask You", John Rutter's "Angel's Carol", and Wham's ubiquitous "Last Christmas". There are two originals, here, as well--Norberg's "Icicles" and "I Wish It Was Christmas", written by Norberg and Nils Landgren.
You'll find a few select song samples at the Act Music site. Those of us in the states, though, might be better served "catching up", listening to the first three Christmas sets of "Christmas With My Friends"--all of which are available on Amazon MP3. If you find yourself stressed out or in a Bah Humbug state of mind, "Christmas With My Friends" is (are?) the tonic for what ails you...practically guaranteed to infuse you with holiday spirit. AND, as Nils would be sure to tell you, it's "100% bell free."
Because we don't have a track from the new set to imbed, just now, here's a track from the first "Christmas With My Friends", Ron Sexsmith's "Maybe This Christmas".