CD Review: Raine Austen “A Night in December”

Posted: December 26, 2014 in Music
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Raine Austen is a Cleveland singer who had been performing in the area for many years. The name may not seem familiar to many in the Greater Cleveland area. That may have something to do with the fact that Austen is a singer who has built a reputation in the Christian music circle in the city.

While Christian music has its place and, for the most part stays there for much of the year, the time period between the day after Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is usually when you find Christmas music being played everywhere. It’s with Christmas music that Raine Austen really shines. In fact, Austen is currently promoting a new 5-song CD that contains music perfect for the Christmas season entitled A Night in December.

A Night in December from Raine Austen begins with one of the newer Christmas songs to be written. “Somebody Build a Manger” is a track written by Joel Raney (Coincidentally, Joel’s last name is pronounced the same as Raine Austen’s first name). The track dates back just over a decade ago. And while the song is quite new, it has the same timeless feel as every usual spiritual Christmas song that has been a part of the Christmas season for years. The track features a piano, bass and drums approach to the music with a resulting jazzy feel to it. The lyrics about finding a place for Mary to give birth to Jesus are very appropriate for the season. Raine’s vocal style on the track matches up well with the jazzy music. While “Somebody Build a Manger” has yet to become as well-known as many other songs, it could easily become a Christmas standard.

The next track is a Christmas standard. The track “Do You Hear What I Hear” is a song that was written in the sixties that many of us have grown up knowing. However, the arrangement of the song on Raine Austen’s new release is quite unusual as the song contains an exotic, almost tropical feel to it. The exotic rhythms of the track give the tune a much more upbeat quality than the listener is used to. And while the song sounds very exotic on the release, it’s also refreshing since it is not the “same old, same old” that you always hear time after time.

Raine Austen’s new five-song Christmas release continues with the track “Hallelujah Christmas”. The song “Hallelujah” from Leonard Cohen is a track that was written to be secular in nature. In fact, you can say that the song is not religious at all. But with the title being what it is, other writers saw the religious potential in the track and wrote new lyrics to the music. The resulting song, entitled “Hallelujah Christmas,” takes Cohen’s song and takes into the Christmas season. Raine Austen’s arrangement to that Christmas version appears on A Night in December. The piano from Julie Brown makes up the majority of the music with Eddie Tomecko adding guitar to add flavoring to the track. The three musical artists of Austen, Brown and Tomecko work well together to bring Cohen’s music and the new lyrics to life with a touch of class.

Raine Austen’s A Night in December comes to a close with the song “Silent Night, Holy Night”. As Raine Austen used Joel Raney’s track of “Somebody Build a Manger” to begin the release, she used Raney’s arrangement of this Christmas standard to bookend the release. While the listener should be used to a very mellow, almost serene feel to the Christmas classic, Joel Raney’s use of a piano, bass and drums trio gives the song a little more life (but not too much more life) than you’re used to. The newer arrangement of the song is a welcome change from the normal arrangement you hear all the time. The song also makes for a great ending track as it closes the five-song CD out.

If you are one who seeks out the more Christian-based music for the Christmas season, this CD is for you. And for those who look for a nice mixture in your Christmas music, you’ll also want to add this CD to your music collection.

To discover Raine Austen and her music, check out her ReverbNation profile.  

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