Jessica Martin and Mark Steyn, vocals
with orchestra conducted by Kevin Amos
For Christmas 2008, Mark teamed up with his old pal Jessica Martin on "A Marshmallow World" - and to their surprise it proved remarkably popular, reaching Number 7 on Amazon's easy listening chart, Number 41 on their main pop downloads, and starting a new tradition of annual Christmas releases from this unlikely duo.
This year, Mark and Jessica are back with a full-length album of Yuletide delights featuring almost an hour of great music.
The twelve tracks on Making Spirits Bright embrace songs from the 19th to the 21st century, by a wide range of writers from Johnny Mercer and Frank Loesser to Mariah Carey and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and in an eclectic range of styles from a full disco megamix of "A Marshmallow World" to the beautiful chamber orchestration of "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" and "It Came Upon The Midnight Clear". But throughout the album Mark and Jessica are committed to making spirits bright with breezy, swinging songs of Yuletide cheer, starting with the opening number, "All I Want For Christmas Is You", in which Steyn hits a new high, so to speak. From there, Mark and Jessica take off on a wild sleigh ride through "Jingle Bells", followed by their extra-nutty take on "Sweet Gingerbread Man" and the tale of "The Christmas Glow Worm".
We take things at a gentler pace for two Auld Lang solos: Mark asks "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?", and Jessica responds with "The Perfect Year". Then we bounce back with the brand new seasonal romp "Runnin' On Eggnog"; a jazzily romantic song from the Nineties, "Snowbound"; and a medley of J Fred Coots' perennial "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" with his lesser known "He'll Be Coming Down The Chimney".
"A Little Town At Midnight" is Mark and Jessica's re-telling of that long-ago night in Bethlehem. It's followed by the merriest "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and the "Marshmallow" megamix to end them all. Featuring sparkling arrangements by Kevin Amos and some of London's best musicians, Making Spirits Bright is sure to brighten your spirits this Christmas season.
Every song is available collectively in old-fashioned CD form, or individually via digital download for instant gratification. Simply click on the titles below:
1) All I Want For Christmas Is You/I'd Like You For Christmas
2) Jingle Bells
3) Sweet Gingerbread Man (director's bake)
4) The Christmas Glow Worm
5) What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?
6) The Perfect Year
7) Runnin' On Eggnog
9) Santa Claus Is Coming To Town/He'll Be Coming Down The Chimney
10) A Little Town At Midnight
11) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
12) A Marshmallow World (megamix)
Miss Martin is in especially fine voice on the above tracks, but there's only so much duetting with Mark a girl can take. So Jessica has branched out and published her first comic book, It Girl, a biographical portrait of 1920s movie star Clara Bow. You can order the comic direct from her online store.