Glenna Bell, ‘Christmas Is Coming (2015)’
Back in December 2011, for that year’s Christmas issue of TheBluegrassSpecial.com, Houston’s Glenna Bell sent us a typically distinctive take on the holiday season in the form of her new song “Be My Valentine On Christmas.”
She’s done it again in 2015 with a striking new Yuletide reflection, “Christmas Is Coming,” a hard-edged song that dares to suggest the world’s ills might make the season something less than holly and jolly. Consider this a prelude to a major Glenna event in 2016 in the form of a new album release, now set for the Spring. Her 2011 masterpiece, Perfectly Legal: Songs of Sex, Love and Murder, was one of that year’s top albums, and all signs point to the new long player occupying a similar lofty spot when the dust settles on 2016 best-of lists. For more background on Ms. Bell, check out our feature interview with her in the January 2011 issue of TheBluegrassSpecial.com, “A ‘Perfectly Legal’ Mission.”
Leslie Cours Mather, ‘Santa Baby (You’ll Be Mine)’
Born in Singapore, Leslie Cours Mather moved around a lot as a child, thanks to her father being in the U.S. Army. She grew up all over the place–in Indonesia, Virginia, Orlando, St. Louis, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Nashville and Los Angeles. There was, however, one constant in her life: music. “I’ve always been musical,” she says, “and my music always went with me.” She cites Linda Ronstadt as a major influence, but it’s clear she’s listened to her fair share of traditional and contemporary country and no small amount of blues. In this her debut year Ms. Mather has had some chart success with the singles “Countrified” and the hard-edged “Hell Hath No Fury.” Here’s a link to the YouTube video of the “Countrified” radio edit and a link to the ambitious, Shane Drake-directed “Hell Hath No Fury” video. Look for her debut EP to be released in early 2016. She’s winding up 2015 on a high note, with a swaggering, sultry Christmas blues tune she wrote, “Santa Baby (You’ll Be Mine),” in which she serves warning to the rarely seen Mrs. Claus that the man with all the toys might be parking his reindeer at a new address soon.
Serena Matthews, ‘O Christmas Tree’
Who would think the tiny burgh of Byrdstown, Tennessee, would produce two musicians of the caliber of Sierra Hull and Serena Matthews? Well, it did. Sierra finally has a new album set for release early next year. Serena, a true cult figure who has rarely performed in public and no longer records for public dissemination, currently resides in Nashville, where she works and along with her musician husband raises a beautiful and talented young daughter named Emma. A few years back she recorded a handful of Christmas carols, all of which (along with her entire amazing catalogue of original songs) are available for free download at her Reverb Nation page. If you want to know more about this fascinating if reclusive artist, your main source of info will be the only in-depth interview she’s ever given, back in April 2011 to TheBluegrassSpecial.com. You can find “Dear Serena” by following this link. A holiday feature in the December 2012 Christmas issue of TheBluegrassSpecial.com offers six of her Christmas recordings in one fell swoop. In the meantime, here’s her singular guitar-and-vocal version of the venerable “O Christmas Tree.”