The Cool, Calm and Collected songs of Bob Sirois

Entering the world of Bob Sirois’ A Hometown Christmas and Dreams of Christmas, the listener is surrounded by a cacophony of bell like tones and silver lined melodies that lull us into a tranquil state of mind. Cloaked in a quilt of diverse musical styles each song revels in the warmth of nostalgia in a fashion that avoids cliché and embraces the magic of fond remembrance. He wants us to rediscover within ourselves a familiar memory, to make time stand still and to transcend the mundane and the everyday.

Surprisingly, his treatments of Christmas classics are refreshing, almost as though they are being heard for the first time. Each song utilizes crystal clear production and formidable, yet restrained musicianship. This is as close to a “re-invention” of the classics as I’ve heard in some time. As one would expect, selections such as Silent Night and Ave Maria sound as though they are sung by angels and accompanied by clouds from heaven, However, Sirois and his band of musicians escape treacherous banality by treating each song with spare arrangements and subtle accompaniment. The result of which feels utterly human, absolutely contented.

The traditional Christmas music does not just cover the familiar (if not overplayed) tunes. John Denver ‘s Aspenglow one immediately recognizes the reverence that is paid in how delicately Sirois performs it. Christmas for Cowboys, while obvious from the title, is a country/western instrumental, is handled as if its original form were a renaissance etude for the lute. The result is something bubbly yet peaceful.

My favorite is perhaps the ever-popular Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from
Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Cliché you say! I say: no way! At every moment the ballet classic would normally swell into a joyous climax, we are denied. Sirois does not delve into cheesy crescendos, but remains levelheaded, sticking to his guns. It is here that I become fully aware of his true intentions: to keep us in the suspended state of deep reflection.

Sirois’ own compositions (such as Mirranda’s Passage and Christmas Eve Lullaby) are mesmerizing, absorbing the listener into another world. Hypnotic swirls of notes give way to the warmth of country and folk with an occasional twist into the emotional pull of classical and traditional motifs. The guitar playing is masterful but not bombastic, humble actually. The complexity of each composition (as well as the virtuosity of the performer and accompanying musicians) is understated, underscoring the importance of the SONG. Refreshingly light and airy.

The mood of both these compilations is relaxed, without any overdramatic hand wringing, utterly mature (without being boring). We discover in them a satisfying meditative moment that seemingly lasts forever…and can, once you hit the replay button.

Sonic Group Art and Music Critic;
Glenn L.V.